It's here! It's finally here! When the boys behind award-winning bar Bulletin Place announced they were opening a second venue, the whole of Sydney clasped their hands and jumped for joy. With such talent behind Dead Ringer, how could it not be good?
Located in a turn-of-the-century terrace on Bourke Street, Surry Hills, one of Dead Ringer's many drawcards is its beautiful courtyard, which is guaranteed to pack out over summer; you can quote me on that. Inside there are casual spots at the bar for that quick after-work drink, and when you finally face up to reality and accept you'll be staying for dinner, nab one of the romantic low-lit booths out back.
Since they've already nailed drinks, this time around they've turned their attention to food. The menu, created by former est. chef Tristan Rosier, consists of 16 fine-dining share plates designed to complement their boutique cocktail list. Yep, no wedges with sour cream here.
The 'everything tastes better deep-fried' adage is proven true again in a serve of pasta dough, born again as a bowl of chips. It's served alongside a cheese and fennel dip topped with fine wisps of parmesan. If you love Le Snak packs, then it's right up your alley. The menu also features a clever pairing of blood sausage with Greek yoghurt ($18), which is an absolute epiphany, while a cheeky bowl of pork jowl terrine ($10) trades up the toast for a sprinkle of crunchy crumbs so you can eat it with a spoon. Genius.
For something more substantial, there's a hearty steak tartare ($16), which comes with pickled eggplant and potato paper (fancy way of saying potato crisps), or a robust lamp rump ($34) with black garlic mustard and bitter greens. Its moist pink flesh is so even throughout that it sparks a conversation on how that's even possible. Sous vide? Slow oven? How?
And yes, the cocktail menu lives up to the hype. The highlight is the hot and cold buttered toddy ($14), made from warmed scotch and muscat poured over Messina burnt butter and sage gelato to create a boozy thickshake. Need I say more?
If you were ever a fan of a Bacardi Breezer back in the day (admit it), then you'll love their yuzu breezer ($17), a bespoke bottled bev made with Tsuru-Ume yuzu liqueur, Aperol, rum and soda with a rebranded Dead Ringer label. There better be a UDL in the works.
If you're enjoying your time down memory lane, then follow it with a Red-Dinger ($17), made with Redskin-infused gin, blood orange and raspberry vinegar. The only miss on the cocktail menu was the Dixie Cup ($18), a plumy, acidic drink that had little in common with its namesake. I felt like a child that had been promised ice-cream only to be handed a piece of fruit, totally betrayed.
While it's not exactly a dead ringer for Bulletin Place, there's plenty to love here. It could even be Sydney's next big thing.
UPDATE MARCH 31, 2017: From April 1, Dead Ringer will open for brunch from 11am–3pm on Saturdays and Sundays. They'll offer an a la carte menu with a brunch cocktail menu and an option for bottomless mimosas.