You might remember our piece on vermouth a while back, naming it as the drink to watch this summer. Well, right on time, Sydney's first vermouth bar and bistro has opened in the new Barangaroo dining precinct. Named after botanist Sir Joseph Banks, Banksii comes from the couple behind Asian fusion favourite Bar H in Surry Hills, chef Hamish Ingham and sommelier Rebecca Lines. They're bringing a slew of aperitifs and a mod Oz bent to the waterfront space — and we're loving it.
The Barangaroo development itself is a bit sterile, but design firm Luchetti Krelle has done a good job warming the place up with soft coral and turquoise tones, cream and worn blue linen coverings and orange dangly lights. We're also fans of the blush pink concrete floor inside and the sexy leather bar stools, however we do wish they'd slap a cushion on the metal chairs outside.
Dive straight into proceedings with some excellent fried sardines with roast garlic aioli ($14) — a glass of Chinati Vergano white vermouth ($9) served on the rocks is a perfectly citrusy and herbaceous partner. So is the house rosé vermouth made by Maidenii ($5), which they have on tap.
The creamed macadamia with fried sage and sweet and sour currants ($14) is the best equivalent of an Australian hummus we could imagine and a summery plate of broad beans, young peas and aged goats' cheese ($19) shows restraint and reverence for simple, quality produce. Similarly, the prosciutto with glazed almonds and grilled peaches ($24) is more than the sum of its parts and a winning dish, if slightly lacking in serving size.
The La Quintinye red vermouth from France ($9) is a great suggestion from super smooth sommelier Kate Christensen. She's adept at finding a vermouth from the huge list by the glass for any dish or personal preference — it's enough to convert even the most clueless of vermouth virgins.
Mains are successful as well, bringing a sense of individual flair with a dish of snapper, wild fennel vinaigrette, fermented chilli and dandelion ($36). And the trifle with vermouth and burnt vanilla custard ($16) is very pretty and pretty great. Yep, Ingham is on fire at Banksii. The food, booze, interiors and service works together as a package and we think it's one of the most original and exciting openings of 2016. Bring on the aromatised wine.
Images: Nikki To and Edward Urrutia.