It’s hard to believe a brand-new restaurant and bar on the second floor of the touristy Queen Victoria Building is a hive of activity on a Friday night. Especially in a city where there’s no shortage of happening precincts, such as Chippendale and Barangaroo.
But that’s exactly the scene at Esquire Drink + Dine on most evenings, where delicious food, innovative cocktails and both locals and visitors – almost cacophonous with excitement – converge after work or post shopping sprees.
It may have something to do with the restaurant’s gorgeous dining room. Housed in one of Sydney’s most historic buildings, it’s a stunning space with high ceilings, long American oak bar, walnut tables, soft lighting and tall arched windows overlooking the Market Street action below.
Or it may have something to do with the establishment’s happy hour, which draws punters with $8 beers, $12 wines and $14 cocktails every day between 3pm and 6pm.
Or perhaps it’s got to do with the food – a sophisticated take on pub fare, with items like pork jowl schnitzel, crumbed sweetbreads and barbecue octopus.
Order à la carte or simply sit back and enjoy the chef’s tasting menu, which at $65 per person, is incredibly good value, considering you get to taste nine dishes, brought to the table in three installments. Steak tartare – spiked with capers – is the standout, followed closely by the rump cap, beautifully seasoned, seared and sliced.
Fire-roasted peppers with fetta don’t really need the anchovies and the service can be tightened up a tad, but other than that the experience is sublime – helped along by an exhaustive drinks list.
Atmosphere: Relaxed and convivial
Best for: Post work drinks and dinner
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Standout dish: Steak tartare
Open: Seven days for lunch and dinner
Address: Level 2, Queen Victoria Building, 455 George Street Sydney
Phone number: +61 2 8023 7609