Sydney hospitality giant Merivale has unveiled the first phase of its 'Ivy 2.0' project, which will see four new venues open in the Sydney CBD this year. First up is Little Felix: a 60-seat cocktail bar and little sister to Ash Street's hatted French bistro Felix on George Street.
The space itself — by lauded design firm Acme and stylist Amanda Talbot — is opulent and designed to transport guests back to 1920s Paris — or at least to the set of Midnight in Paris. Think Zelda and F Scott Fitzgerald parties at their grandest.
In terms of drinks, Group Bar Manager Sam Egerton has created a succinct cocktail list featuring eight old-world classics made with premium French ingredients and liqueurs. Instead of a straightforward French 75 (gin, citrus and champagne), Little Felix serves up the Paris Meridian, which uses Chandon blanc de blancs and Farigoule de Forcalquier (a French thyme liqueur). Then there's the Le Ricain (the bar's take on a Sidecar), made with Hennessy VS, Cointreau and Armagnac.
The wine list is impressive in its own right, too, curated by Merivale's Master Sommelier Franck Moreau and Head Sommelier Jean-Charles Mahe. Expect by-the-glass wines and champagnes to be poured from magnums — 1.5-litre bottles — and a custom-built wine fridge behind the bar. Guests can also order back vintages from the (impressively large) wine list next door at Felix.
To eat, Head Chef Nathan Johnson has created a dedicated menu of simple French dishes for Little Felix, with the focus on charcuterie, cheese and tartines (temptingly spread out on the bar). Order a plate of jambon and melon, creamy duck liver parfait or one of the nine different cheeses.
Also joining the group's Ivy Precinct this year is a casual Middle Eastern eatery by ex-Rockpool Chef Simon Zalloua, a sister to Bondi's Italian restaurant Totti's and a new Mexican joint. The precinct is already home to Bar Topa, Felix, Palings, Ash St Cellar, The Royal George and Ivy Pool Club, Den and Lounge.
The openings coincide with the big Light Rail reveal and the soon-to-launch George Street pedestrian zone that comes along with it, as well as City of Sydney's newly approved late-night trading plan. This phase of Merivale's 'Ivy 2.0' project is the first step toward entirely redeveloping the site, but that won't come into play for many years to come. We'll keep you in the loop as we learn more about all of the new Merivale happenings.
Images: Nikki To.