A few years ago an idiotic politician declared that Sydney simply didn't want small bars like Melbourne's, where people could quietly read a book while drinking a glass of chardonnay in a black skivvy. That comment has been proven false again and again, and now Sydney is graced by establishments like Love, Tilly Devine, the perfect small bar to sit and read a book over some chardonnay. In a skivvy, if you want.
The people at Love, Tilly Devine are excited. They're excited about their wine, about the future of their neighbourhood, and about their food. The name of the bar is an ode to East Sydney's past and a tribute to an obscure 1930s brothel madam, who, while her husband was getting prostitutes hooked on cocaine and beating her to a pulp, performed acts of local charity.
The bar is tucked away in a Darlinghurst alley, with open windows and exposed brick walls and cosy to the point that I spotted one waiter go outside into the street and refill somebody's glass through the window. Don't come to Love, Tilly Devine if you want to get drunk. There are other places to do that. This is a place you can bring a date and drink quality, not quantity. This is a wine lover's bar for people who are willing and able to spend their money on it.
The staff are happy to help out if you feel a bit befuddled by the seemingly limitless selection (the wine list currently sits at just under 300 varieties), and with the perfect seasonal food to go with it. Prices come per bottle, so it's tricky if you just want a glass; the cheapest glass of wine from the Riesling list, for example, is $16. But while it might be on the dear side, Love, Tilly Devine is a welcome addition to Sydney's thriving small bar scene.