A dapper 1920s-inspired cocktail lounge in Southbank with hot chip butties (and other great sangas).
August 07, 2019
This dapper new cocktail bar in Southbank from the Neil Perry-helmed Rockpool Dining Group shouldn't be judged on face value.
With plenty of art deco stylings, R Bar is inspired by the 1920s and is an homage to the world's best-loved and most celebrated hotel lobby bars, such as the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel Singapore and Venice's Harry's Bar. Taking all of this into account, you'd assume great cocktails, right? Yes, you get those. But would you also think you'd be able to order hot chip butties and giant deli-like sandwiches? No? Well, it's got those, too.
Sitting adjacent to Rockpool Bar & Grill in the Crown Towers, R Bar has space for 110, including an intimate 16-seat private bar. Its Great Gatsby-inspired fit-out features lots of dark timber, rich velvet and bronze mirror panelling, with a show-stealing chandelier of handblown glass and sculptural pendants hung from the soaring ceiling. Throw in a hefty wall of bottled cocktails and spirits ageing in barrels and you've got one seriously luxe hangout.
As you'd expect, the booze offering heroes hotel bar classics (such as the singapore sling, manhattan sour and bellini) alongside modern cocktails with plenty of native ingredients and local spirits. The bar has a dedicated martini service, too – expect an all-Australian spirits lineup, and drinks poured and garnished at your table – as well as a serious barrel-ageing program, which is apparently one of the largest in the country. Concoctions including negroni, manhattan, old fashioned, boulevardier, sazerac and vieux carre are all being aged in house in a variety of barrels, sourced from some top Aussie wineries and American distilleries.
To eat, there's an equally impressive food offering, with menus for all hours of the day. Breakfast might mean a superfood bowl, fresh pastries or house-made crumpets, or brunch-appropriate cocktails like the strawberry and rhubarb bellini. Or panini stuffed with the lots of different cheeses and cured meats.
Come 11am, you can sit down to the likes of oysters and caviar, crab cakes, crostini and charcuterie — and one of eight different sandwiches. As well as the aforementioned hot chip butty (with Heinz tomato sauce, of course), you can pick from a cheesy meatball sandwich, a salad roll, a salted beef and slaw number and the God Mother: a mega-sandwich with seven cold meats, lettuce, tomato and hot sauce, which is inspired by Santa Monica's Bay Cities Italian Deli.
On weekends, an afternoon tea service features either a spread of finger sandwiches, savouries and pastries teamed with coffee and tea, or a more decadent collection boasting caviar and champagne.