Sydney's love affair with natural wines shows no sign of slowing and we couldn't be happier about it. The latest venue to showcase the funky wines is newcomer Ode Bar; it's offering an Australian twist on European-style dining with minimal intervention wines, Italian-inspired share plates and an upcycled fit-out.
Joining Abiad as co-owners are managers Jeremy Moyle and Jerome Wallcroft and designer Benedict Maurice — who are all Sydney hospo vets and have overlapped across many of the same venues. With this venture, they're "blurring the boundaries between wine bar and restaurant", starting with an extensive wine list from all-natural winemakers — using minimal intervention with no additives, fining, filtration or added yeasts.
"The big difference we've found through seeking out these producers is it's not a story about one amazing wine maker using technical methods in the cellar; rather, it's a story about an amazing group of farmers that are growing the best fruit they can, to express the earth where it was grown, and what happened during that season," says Moyle.
Ode aims to put the farmers on display and focuses on producers who are reviving native grape varieties. All four owners have spent time harvesting on vineyards, too, so their appreciation of good wine goes deeper than just time spent in hospitality.
This produce-driven mentality extends to the kitchen, where Abiad's seasonal menu draws from his roots in Italian cooking. Like at Dear Sainte Eloise, it's a concise menu that's meant to be shared over a few glasses of wine. There's a clear focus on chargrilled cooking, with dishes like grilled scallops with a rosemary and anchovy sauce; grilled octopus with 'nduja and lardo; and smoked mussels on toast, topped with aioli and pickled celery (a dish reminiscent of the Dear Sainte Éloise menu, too).
Mains centre on house-made pastas, which, at the moment, are used in heartier winter dishes like beef cheek ragu cavatelli, or gnocchi in a creamy gorgonzola and walnut sauce. On weekends, Ode is also slinging simple European-style brekkie from 9am — think sweet and savoury croissants, pastries and danishes by Clovelly's Tuga Pastry, plus soft-boiled eggs on toast and coffees by Mecca, of course.
The fit-out follows a commitment to the au naturel, too, with the team building everything from scratch using mostly recycled materials. These include 200-year-old Blue Gum timber — salvaged from Botany Bay's La Perouse wharf — which became the bar top, tables and chairs, plus the majority of the back bar.
Ode Bar is now open at 251 Bondi Road, Bondi. Opening hours are Tuesday through Thursdays from 3pm to 11pm; Friday from noon to 11pm; and Saturday through Sunday from 9am to 11pm.