The jewel in Barangaroo's ever-growing crown, Barangaroo House is made up of three levels — we reviewed them all.
December 22, 2017
Navigating the monstrous Barangaroo House is not an easy feat. Should you head straight to the ground floor or climb to level one? Or two? What occasion befits what level? Where can you eat, drink and find the sea urchin martini? Stress not. We've done the hard yards for you — we've reviewed all three levels. So read below, then negotiate the building with ease.
GROUND FLOOR: HOUSE BAR
On the bottom floor is House Bar. Set just above street level and in prime waterfront position, it's the most approachable of the three outlets. Serving tap beer, cocktails and wine, it's all bar service and can get four- or five-deep on a busy night.
It's aimed at, and well suited to, after-work drinkers with a mix of high communal tables and stools and some lower tables – though the design is fairly neutral.
The menu hero here is Japanese-stye pub food, well suited to a late lunch offering on a sunny Friday. Start light with steamed edamame or Sydney rock oysters, or get hot and heavy with chicken wings and miso hot sauce. Choose your own main adventure with a rice bowl (pick the protein and sauce, the rest is universal) or step it up a notch with some supremely delish burgers (crispy chicken cheeseburger to pumpkin and coriander katsu and more) served with chips. Wash it down with a sip from the wine list or any classic cocktail you can remember the name of.
What's the deal? The most approachable level. Bar service. Japanese pub food and classic cocktails.
LEVEL 1: REKŌDO
The next floor up is Rekōdo (Japanese for record) which is overseen by restaurateur Matt Moran and the Solotel group. On the menu, expect more stylised Japanese cuisine and signature cocktails.
A collaboration between leading hospitality architects H&E and interior design firm Studio Etic, Barangaroo House has lots of successful aesthetic elements; but Rekōdo is an ode to Japanese listening rooms — with an intimate, dimly lit space with efficiently spaced seating and space to kick back.
The food is equally considered in terms of design. Head chef Michael Dabbs has set up a Japanese-style share menu that caters to large crews and a relaxed dining experience. The style is seasonal, the produce is fresh, and the experience can be traditional or omakase-style if you're trusting the chef. Ease into it with pork belly bao with tonkatsu or moreton bay bug with mentai mayo and nori; keep things light with market sashimi and house soy or charred calamari with anchovy; or go all out with flame tail snapper with koji butter or swordfish skewers with yuzu.
The drinks only get better as you ascend Barangaroo House, and Rekōdo goes all in on its Japanese inspiration with wine, sake and an impressive list of specialty cocktails. From the flavoursome sawayaka (grapefruit infused Bombay Sapphire, honeydew and watermelon Campari, Martini Rosso) to the zesty yuzu be crazy (Four Pillars Yuzu Gin, yellow Chartreuse, yuzu, Bergamot, pistachio), there's a drink for everyone.
And finally, there's the origin of the name. You see, Rekōdo is a vinyl bar in more than just aesthetic. The playlists are curated, the beats are eternal, and the artists are some of the most talented disk jockeys in the game.
What's the deal? Vinyl and vibes. Make a reservation. Enjoy the drinks and tunes with company.
When is it open? Monday closed, Tues—Sat, 12pm—12am, Sunday 12pm—10pm.
LEVEL 2: SMOKE
Smoke is at the top of the building.
Sydney is fairly low in this sector for a waterside city with our climate, so a great rooftop can never go astray. Although word has definitely got around, and most nights there won't be many spare seats among the well-heeled crowd.
The most pleasing element is the dominance of a great big timber deck, with a good amount of indoor and outdoor greenery. The view is beautiful and an ideal time to come is as the sun is setting (just remember your sunnies) – to watch the sky turn from dusk to dark, dotted with city lights.
The food direction here is in the menu of Japanese share-style plates. The wines by the glass are impressive, like an excellent Falmet champagne or an Australian Inkwell Primitvo from McLaren Vale. Snacks like sweet and spicy popcorn, yuzu steak tartare with cured yolk, devon and tomato sauce jaffle or crumpets with spanner crab and citrus tell an oddly familiar story.
The plot of that story becomes clear when looking at the cocktail menus: nostalgia. At least that's the theme of the spring 2023 menu, with drinks inspired by fresh-cut lawns, hot chips coated in chicken salt and refreshing half-time orange wedges.
One thing is clear, the whole development can be summarised in one word: ambitious. It has all the elements of talented designers, sommeliers and chefs and enormous patronage capacity as well as a towering futuristic structural dominance.
What's the deal? Head in early. Order one of the custom martini. And snacks.
When is it open? Mondy closed, Tuesday 3—10pm, Wed—Sat, 3pm—midnight, Sunday 2—10pm.
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