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Cocktails with the girls just got a whole lot tastier. Enter The Roosevelt. It’s chiefly a cocktail bar, where bowties and braces are just as important as bicardi and bitters. The vibe of the place manages to be trendy without allying itself with the hipster invasion of the inner-Sydney ‘burbs. Much to our delight, paisley floral patterns and flannelette garments are nowhere to be seen. Instead the low-lit room is decorated with ageing whiskies in handsome decanters and all manner of dangerous-looking tools, ready to be employed to muddle, shake and stir magic from moonshine. Bartenders zip silently between tables, adorned in fitted waistcoats, vintage button-downs and sporting moustaches that are exquisitely trimmed and twirled.
Gone are the days when the only choice regarding your cocktail was whether to have it shaken or stirred. The cocktail list at The Roosevelt is as extensive as it is tantalising, and the descriptions on the page don’t even mention the table-side additions and thespian displays. Obtuse heating and cooling devices and outlandish drinking receptacles aside, every drink we order is balanced, complex and just what we’re after, without being predictable.
The same level of theatrics is not applied to the food, but fortunately the focus on quality and innovation pours through. We are whisked around the world with each dish drawing upon a different country’s cuisine. Inspired by China, a dish of pork belly is a stunning array of ingredients. The pork is cooked to perfect tenderness (compressed, I’m told) which is accentuated by crisp-puffed black rice. The pork sits on a brushstroke of roasted squid ink puree next to a scoop of sweet, buttery lettuce gazpacho. The cocktails all contain nips and squirts of a shopping-list of liquors and other inclusions.
The pork dish is paired with Singleton’s whisky, Montenegro, Aperol, Fernet, cider vinegar, Char siu syrup and ginger [pause for breath]. Despite the racket of ingredients, the cocktail is a powerful and sultry melody which, however, slightly out-sings the food.
The kitchen team, headed by Brian Geraghty, continue their skilful execution with a refined serving of seared ocean trout, sailing on a brilliantly hued puree of broccoli, with dapples of lime puree interspersed. The chefs nod to fish ‘n’ chips by pairing the protein with a generous serving of Jerusalem artichoke crisps. The cocktail is once again a laboratory-accurate balance of three thousand ingredients, Tanqueray gin, celery water, lemon, chili, Dandelion and illegal mescal. The citric acid buzzes in my mouth like sherbet. It all somehow makes sense, especially with a spot of the lime puree.
France was an inevitable stop on tonight’s journey through the world’s culinary offerings. Pane perdu (french toast), is a weakness even to the most pompous Parisian. The rhubarb pane perdu is gorgeously eggy, served with a rhubarb carpaccio and generous domes of Earl Grey foam and tarragon cream. Tarragon has a naturally assaulting taste, however in this form the flavour is
restrained and craftily coupled with the other elements on the plate. To drink we have a flute of Medos honey vodka, rose syrup, amaretto, pear and tea. The cocktail is refreshing with sparkles of summer.
Its sweetness happily mingles with the pane perdu, but for me it’s not a revolutionary pairing.
Degustation Manager & Head Bartender, Luke Ashton, is ever-present and affably offers humorous interchanges, welcomed as part of the pleasingly attentive service. It’s refreshing to be served by someone who is genuinely passionate about the plate and drink they are putting in front of you.
It’s a rarity to unearth a venue that provides such an intimate and exceptional dining experience, amongst the epidemic of gastro-pubs devouring Sydney. Thankfully, The Roosevelt fits the bill.
Identifying the intended interplays between the cocktails and the food is sometimes as challenging as making sense of the labyrinth that is an artist’s mind. However that does not detract from the delight when pieces fit together on your tongue, illuminating the creativity and insight of the masterminds behind the works. So doll up, fork out and drink deep!