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Surry Hills Stalwart Bishop Sessa Has Swapped Fine Dining for a Casual Bar Set-Up

The Crown Street venue has ditched its set menu in favour of bar snacks and cheaper sharing plates.
By Libby Curran
September 03, 2018
By Libby Curran
September 03, 2018

After a commendable six-year stint, the team behind Surry Hills fine diner Bishop Sessa has taken things down a notch. The Crown Street venue has made the transition into casual dining territory, last week relaunching as a wine bar. Sporting a new look that's just as elegant, yet more laidback and casual, it's been renamed simply The Bishop.

While the set menu and the special occasion-level of formality have been given the flick, owner Erez Gordon says he's held on to all the best-loved bits: the hefty wine offering, the switched-on staff and a decent food menu.

Helping to push the venue into this next phase of life is renowned chef Troy Spencer, the one-time co-owner of Newtown's Spencer Guthrie, who's fresh from scoring a Good Food chef's hat during his time as Executive Chef at the Yarra Valley's TarraWarra Estate. While he's moved the venue away from degustation-style dining, he's devised a bar menu that lets you drop in for a few after-work snacks right through to a full meal. Expect dishes like wagyu beef cheeks with whipped cashew and burnt butter, salted fish with crisp potato, and market fish teamed with sweet and sour fennel.

This newfound laidback vibe extends to the drinks offering. You'll find over 30 wines by the glass — starting at a neat $10 and ideal alongside the menu's snackier options — as well as a 200-strong bottle selection, a swag of craft beers and a crop of inventive cocktails.

We're glad to see that the venue is able to pivot, rather than close completely like many other restaurants in the area; at last count, the strip of Crown Street that The Bishop calls home was sporting around 15 empty shopfronts. This lack of thriving business — which includes the closure of The Book Kitchen and The Devonshire — been largely attributed to the construction of the new southeast light rail system along Devonshire Street by venue owners, including Gordon. According to Gordon, Bishop Sessa saw 50 percent drop in trading  from when the construction started in October 2016 until the restaurant closed last month.

The Bishop is now open at 527 Crown Street, Surry Hills. It's open from 4pm everyday except Monday. 

Published on September 03, 2018 by Libby Curran
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