You know those places you just didn't know existed? The ones that make you kick yourself for not knowing about them sooner? Syracuse Restaurant and Wine Bar is one of those places for us. Neatly tucked in the stunning Bank Place at the bottom end of the city, this venue transports you to straight to the streets of Europe. Dark, red lighting, intimate tables and attentive staff all come together to make it quite easy to think you'd stepped off the beaten track in Rome.
After taking a seat at your table clothed in white linen, you'll be alerted to the fact that there is a Champagne Cart. Yes, dreams really do come true. A rotating handful of Champagnes by the glass are on offer each day — think a Pol Roger, or perhaps a tiny small batch winery that you might never have heard of. All available for $20.
The food is designed to share with the majority of the menu falling under the 'share plate' section. A salad of beetroot, chickpeas, pistachio, goats cheese, raisins and orange ($15) is textural and surprising, while the smoked duck breast is served with fennel, vanilla and strawberries ($23) creating a lovely taste sensation. Or, choose five share plates for $95 and sample a little of everything. Mains see generous portions of broccoli risotto with truffle and pecorino ($29 main) or a 28 day dry aged rib-eye with smoked bone marrow and pickled garlic ($45). Locally sourced produce shines in a simple, yet expertly executed menu.
If you are into sweets, the bitter chocolate parfait is a must. Perched atop salted macadamia, chocolate cake and salted caramel ($17), it is best shared after an evening of many a share plate. Lighter desserts also feature, including the strawberries, simply served with lime meringue and sorrel granita ($16.50).
With over 500 wines, the decision process is made a lot easier by a knowledgeable sommelier, eager to guide you through the journey. Expect anything from a 2010 Georg Gustav Huff Riesling Spatlese Trocken from Germany ($11 glass) to a local 2009 Mount Langi Ghiran 'Cliff Edge' Shiraz ($12.50 glass). To accompany that divine dessert, go for a 1985 Bodegas Toro Albala Pedro Ximenez from Spain ($15 glass) to round out a decadent evening.
If you are yet to discover Syracuse, you should make a point to visit, and if you have — well, there's nothing wrong with a second time around.