So Sydney is riddled with cool hip hidden bars but what happens when it's so well disguised that nobody knows it's there? Assembly Bar is one of the newest tenants at Regent Place - you know, the building near KFC on George Street, near Lumiere, where Chefs Gallery is, and Ton Ton Ramen and Azuma Patisserie and ohhh I didn't know that was called Regent Place...
Assembly sits directly beneath Azuma Kushiyaki, opening in late 2011. It's the latest venture by Ben Touass, the man behind Pocket bar in Darlinghurst. The space is large and open, with exposed pipes, hanging metal lamps and slate grey walls giving it an industrial feel. Chesterfield lounges, robot etchings on the wall and an astroturf lawn at the entrance provide quirkiness and warmth, but the headless mannequins on the mezzanine level do add a haunting eeriness.
Assembly Bar with headless mannequins above
There are 22 cocktails on the menu, with cheeky names like For Shizzle My Treacle -- Jamaican rum and cinnamon with white chocolate foam and pear, $19 -- and Betty & Camp, a Campari, grapefruit and raspberry concoction ($17) that promises to "compliment any outfit and makes you look smarter".
Assembly's fries + cheese + truffle sauce $13
Tonight, however, we're all about beers and bar food. There are no beers available on tap but several bottles of ale keep us occupied throughout the evening.
The bar menu offers a mix of shareable starters, snacks and entree-sized dishes. The most expensive item is the cured meat board at $25, but most dishes hover around the $14 mark. The Assembly fries sound promising with the temptation of cheese and truffle sauce, but at $13 it's quite a small serve of chips with a tiny pot of sauce that vaguely smells like truffles.
Smoked provolone croquettes and piquillo peppers $10
Smoked provolone croquettes, on the other hand, offer much more value: five golden orbs that are blistering hot from the deep-fryer. The coating is thin and crunchy, and the cheese is almost gooey on the inside. A spicy piquillo pepper sauce is perfect for dipping.
Lounges and bar stools
Braised sticky short ribs and broccolini $18
The barman behind the counter recommends the braised sticky short ribs for the hungry. Although modest in size, the deboned beef is incredibly rich, ribboned with layers of fat and slow-cooked to a melting unctuousness. A raft of broccolini spears sits beneath the beef, but it still seems like quite a heart-clogging dish to eat on its own.
Pork frankfurt hotdog with truffle cheese sauce and potato shoestrings $10
There are several loose interpretations of menu items that cause some debate on arrival. A hot dog in my books always comes on a soft bun, but the pork and truffle hotdog arrives in a crusty roll that looks like the par-bake kind. There's not much truffle cheese sauce either but the potato shoestrings are probably the most disappointing aspect - cold and limp.
Pork belly slider with spicy sofrito and pickled red cabbage $12
Calamari fritti and capers and a dash of chilli $10
Calamari fritti gets things back on track, rings of tender calamari coated in a light and crispy batter.
Quinoa, cucumber, cashews and tahini dressing $10
But the surprise dish of the night is the quinoa salad, a bowl of nutty quinoa tossed through with cherry tomatoes, cucumber and toasted cashews and pecans. It's soul-reviving and a welcome find. You could say the same for Assembly Bar.
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488 Kent Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9283 8808
Monday to Saturday 12pm til late
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3/08/2012 02:29:00 a.m.