The bars that exist in five star hotels are a different breed. Grain bar, perched at the Four Seasons on George Street, epitomises this said breed. This newbie has a quiet elegance, A grade barmen and waiters who know what you want before you do. A prototype of eating and drinking decadence, Grain is the modern version of what hotel bars in the movies stand for; a place of sultry looks, sophisticated liquor and and inspiring service.
Grain reflects the ethos of the bar; everything possible is carefully crafted or hand made, every ingredient is of quality. The entire interior is made of dark timber, which glows in the low yellow light engulfing the bar in cosiness. The island bar is the stand out feature, which is made of frosted glass covered in twisted pieces of Queensland Blackbutt timber, which gives the internationally branded bar a sense of location. Trays suspended at different levels hold perfectly aligned bottles of spirits aloft.
The cocktail menu is a thing of wonder. The De Vines ($17), comprising grapes, elderflower and pisco shaken with lime and topped with sparkling wine is perfectly refreshing. The Eastern Promise ($19), fresh pineapple, coriander and vodka shaken with absinthe, is unlike any other cocktail I’ve tasted. The usually sweet pineapple is mellowed by the absinthe and as you sip, you get an incredible hit of coriander on the nose.
The substantial food menu is designed to share and incredibly tempting, something we’ve come to expect from Hamish Ingham of Bar H. The oysters (there is a choice of three) are large and incredibly fresh, Moonlight en Surface ($4.50 each) are particularly good if your prefer them creamy and salty rather than fishy. The Old Man’s Fried Salt Bush ($12) is a plant from South Australia with wide leaves that are dipped in batter, deep-fried and served with garlic aioli. This is a great drinking dish as it is salty with a fantastic crunchy texture. The flavour of the plant, however, is somewhat lost. This is a shame as the strong herbaceous, almost citrusy flavour compliments the salty batter very well.
The Grain burger and fries ($21) is suited to those after something heftier; the seeded roll is stuffed full with pulled beef short rib, radish, onion and sorrel. The rangers valley hanger steak with salt and vinegar parsnip ($29.5) is cut up to share, with a salsa verde-type sauce is melt-in-your-mouth tender. I’m dying to try the Roquefort and chocolate oaties ($12) or box of tobacco chocolate almonds ($8) but am nearing on a food coma, so opt for a beer instead. My pick? The Brooklyn Lager ($11) which is amber and hoppy.
So if you’re in Circular Quay after a show at the Opera House, this is the perfect way to top a classy night. Make your way down to Grain quickly, because its set to dish up a full house seven days.