The Ester team's highly anticipated Surry Hills restaurant and wine bar.
November 21, 2018
When it was first announced that the on-site restaurant at Paramount House Hotel, already home to Golden Age Cinema and Paramount Coffee Project, would be helmed by Ester's Mat Lindsay, it quickly became the most anticipated restaurant opening of 2017. Then, thanks to building delays, of 2018. Eight months later, one quiet night in August, the suspense was almost palpable when Poly suddenly threw open its doors to hoards of eager Sydneysiders.
Poly — not an abbreviation of Polyester, we're told — is like its Chippendale sister in many ways. It's unpretentious, fire is the hero of the kitchen and its wine list is impressive. But, unlike its sibling, it says it's a wine bar first, and a restaurant second. Whether it's a bar, a restaurant, or a portmanteau of the two, is still out for debate, but it's well-equipped to cater to guests looking for either (or both).
The 12-page wine list, chosen by sommelier and co-owner Julien Dromgool, is loaded with minimal-intervention, skin-contact drops, sorted under helpful, descriptive headings like 'mid-weight & complex' and 'light & juicy'. While it's not one of the city's cheaper lists, you'll find some great local labels — like Lucy Margaux, Momento Mori and Commune of Buttons — for under $80.
At the back of the light-filled, subterranean restaurant — by Anthony Gill Architects, who also designed Ester — behind the communal wooden tables, long shiny bar top and wall-length wine rack is the open kitchen. Unlike Ester, the hero of it is not a woodfired, but a huge coal-powered grill.
On it, Lindsay and Poly head chef Isabelle Caulfield are charring sourdough bread lathered in spicy 'nduja ($12), pipis served floating in spicy bottarga oil ($24) and calamari, skewered and topped with a fine layer of grated egg yolk ($16 each).
Like many Sydney restaurants, the menu is oft-changing, reflecting the season and showcasing limited produce. So, one night you might find sweet honey bugs ($5 each) topped with shellfish aioli, others tuna belly on toast ($16). And, we recommend keeping an eye on Poly's Instagram for occasional off-menu dishes, too.
Regardless of what Poly is — a synthetic resin, a bar, a restaurant — it's carved a niche for itself in a suburb already teaming with good restaurants. And it's a guaranteed good night out.
Images: Kitti Smallbone.