Amidst the Qantas Centre, TNT head office and other similarly industrial commercial buildings, on the decidedly less cool (read: south) side of the city, lies a graffitied beacon of hope for the workers and residents that share the suburb of Mascot.
For one thing, it's the first wine bar in the area. But it's also attracting a devoted daytime crowd for the Mediterranean-inspired menu, De Gabriel coffee and the contagious energy of owner, Elizabeth Woods (don't get her started on the coffee; she's what you'd describe as 'passionate').
On a corner site, it enjoys great exposure on the intersection of two main roads just up from the train station. The configuration is awkward but Woods and designer UI Building Studio have used it to create three different zones, each with its own feel — from the people-watching front counter to the restaurant-style banquette seating along the length of the venue and the relaxing bar/lounge area at the back (with balcony). It was nearly two years in the making but it's been a labour of love, with Woods' personality stamped all over it (and recorded in her blog). The small venue is made bright and inviting with a minimal materials palette — concrete and plywood punctuated by graffiti art by Alex Lehours, whose work Woods spotted at the Outpost exhibition on Cockatoo Island in 2011.
We go after work to see it in its wine bar state and it's pretty packed. We start with one of the specials, prawn and corn fritters ($10), which is unusual and interesting, as are the grilled chorizo chips with spiced apple puree ($8.50). The Renegades Plate — an easy share option with grilled bread, tzatziki, tomato chutney and diced egg mayonnaise ($12) — is a winner when you pile some of each into a mouthful.
The Mojito ($11) is well balanced and the 2010 Mandala Pinot Noir from Yarra Valley ($10 glass) just okay, but the winner is the 2010 Sons of Eden, Kennedy GSM from the Barossa Valley ($8 glass).
Something that sets The Renegades apart is the forward-thinking focus on technology. They have an engaging social media voice and have just launched an app (Woods' husband was formerly in the IT industry). The app allows mobile ordering — perfect for an office worker who's running late. Simply choose from the menu, pay on credit or put it on your tab, and it's ready for pick up when you get off the train. Pretty neat.
Renegade: An outlaw; a rebel. They definitely got the name right.