For those new to Cuban history, there once was a man named Julio Lobo. Julio, also known as the 'The Sugar King of Havana', was considered one of the most powerful barons of said sweetness in the entire world before his exile in 1960. Today, halfway across the planet, his legend lives on in the form of new rum bar The Lobo Plantation, and by the looks of the place, senor Jules would be proud.
Slightly hidden below Clarence Street via a winding staircase, the Lobo is a lot bigger than you'd expect. The deep red and green decor paired with recycled dark wood and floral furniture is delightfully welcoming, while the fine use of space and overall attention to detail makes this week-old newbie seem like a long-loved establishment. And what's more, the moment you step up to the bar, you're made to feel like a real regular.
"Leave your ego at the door" is the motto of bartenders and best mates Simon Toohey (yes, that family) and Jay Gray, who not only seem to genuinely delight in meeting, greeting and serving clientele no matter their walk of life but also have a real passion when it comes to mixology. With a staggering collection of rums, wines (plus in-house sommelier) and the usual favourites, there's more than just your two-bit mojito here. Negroni lovers will fall head over heels for the Short and Stout, a powerful little play on a classic, while the Million Dollar No. 9 is fruity, irresistibly drinkable and comes with its very own homemade real fruit rollup.
A good feed isn't forgotten with the team over at Food Society in Darlinghurst making everything fresh before sending it over to stock Lobo's well-priced and flavoursome menu. For a little nibble enjoy the complimentary salted plantain chips (warning: addictive) or grab the meatballs (order some snow buns to soak up the sauce). But for a real treat, try the empanadas with the flakiest, most heavenly pastry that just crumbles and crunches in your mouth, or the polenta tamale, steamed in a corn husk and dribbled with a few drops of the house-made hot sauce.
All in all, The Lobo Plantation is an excellent addition to Sydney's CBD and a welcoming, sophisticated and refined homage to the main man of decadence.