A few years ago, I attended a friend's birthday at Favela nightclub in the Kings Cross/Potts Point area back in the days. Recently, this spot has been transformed into a New York inspired bar catered for late night catch up drinks, shared plates, social functions and loads of cocktails. Quite similar to the nearby Love on Top only the venue itself is larger in comparison. It's a split-level venue with the front bar, main bar in the middle and the VIP room at the back of the bar. Bonus points for having plenty of couches around the bar if you need to sit down during the night.
Late last month, I was kindly invited to a blogger degustation to discover the tapas and cocktail drinks that the Carlisle Bar offer. While the weather that night was insane, it didn't damper our spirits as we mingle and chill out while the live entertainment from Angelina Ciccotti (singer) and Adrian Petlevanny (guitarist) plays in the background. It was super awesome hanging out with so many lovely bloggers as well as getting to know those I haven't met till this night.
The Carlisle Bar food menu was curated by celebrity chef, Chrys Xipolitas with a combination of Mediterranean flavours with an Asian flair. This was certainly evident in the four course degustation menu that was available for all of us to try on the night. We also got to sample (by that I mean drink the whole glass lol) a generous selection of cocktails from the cocktail menu led by bar manager, Benjamin Hickey. It is a bar after all. Of course we will be drinking! :P
We started the night off with a few shared plates. The Carlisle Plate was a Greek inspired shared plate consisting of fresh pita breads, trio of dips, feta cheese and marinated olives. Let's just say I got way too addicted to the olives as always. And piling up as many toppings as I want onto the soft pita bread was fun and messy.
Carlisle Plate ($24.00)
If you are vegetarian then you can grab your fill with the Vegetarian Teasers plate. This includes chargrilled eggplant, zucchini, capsicum, marinated artichokes, semi-dried tomatoes and (more) olives served with crusty bread. These were too slippery to handle without a fork or even a toothpick as opposed to a spoon. Very tasty though. While it is quite pricey, I believe it is designed to share between two people so it's not too much.
Vegetarians Teasers ($26.00)
My personal favourite from the starter treats were the tortilla chips. The chips itself were quite crispy but what got me super nuts was the chunky and zesty guacamole (consisting of avocado with coriander chilli and lime) dip. Considering the massive number of bloggers, I know that sharing is caring but it was incredibly addictive after one bite. And the chilli was quite mild - to my standards anyway.
Tortilla Chips ($16.00)
Not soon after the shared starter plates were taken away that the four course degustation began. One of my favourite dishes of the night was the grilled haloumi cheese with purple grape and balsamic reuction. Apparently the haloumi recipe was made by an 86 year old Greek grandmother who distributed her recipe to only three people in Sydney including Chrys Xipolitas (curious to know who the other two were though). It is no surprise why she intended to keep this recipe as secret as possible. It was creamy, bouncy yet light in taste and well matched with the grape and balsamic for the extra sweet flavour. It wasn't too cheesy nor was it very salty which was what I personally preferred.
Grilled Haloumi topped with grape and a balsamic reduction ($14.00)
In this degustation, there was a glass of cocktail paired with each designated meal. Each cocktail listed under The Carlisle Cocktails menu was priced at $18.00. The haloumi was paired with the Clover Club. This consisted of Aviation gin, lemon, raspberry and egg white. This was quite sweet, fruity and tangy which I enjoyed. It was also interestingly combined with thyme as a garnish inside the cocktail.
The Clover Club
The next dish coming up was the lightly floured and fried prawn cutlets. Personally I found these to be light and just as addictive as the olives with its crumbled and crispy coating. This was served with a trio of dipping sauces including sweet chilli plum, soy teriyaki and wasabi aioli (this was not spicy at all btw). Felt like wanting more after finishing my share. Reminded me of the salt and pepper prawns/squids that you would regularly spot at various Asian restaurants.
Lightly floured and fried prawn cutlets served with a trio of dipping sauces ($18.00)
The second course was paired with Eastside Fizz, a Manhattan-inspired cocktail containing Beefeater gin, lime, mint, Perrier water and sweetness. This was equally light, sweet and fizzy like a champagne. Very refreshing to have if you want a low-key night since the alcohol didn't taste as strong.
The third course of spicy chicken thighs was juicy, tender, well cooked though the overall flavours didn't excite me too much compared to the first two courses. Plus I was more keen on drinking at this point of the night so my memory was quite fuzzy. From what I could recall, the spicy chicken wasn't too spicy though there was a slight hit. Maybe my spicy tolerance really has increased or I was a bit too tipsy to notice. This was marinated and BBQ'd with a secret sauce which has got us curious. You can definitely see the Asian inspired aspect of the menu with this course with the use of marinated spices and accompanying sauce.
Marinated Spicy Chicken and thigh fillets, marinated in the chef's secret sauce and BBQ'd ($16.00)
YAY MORE DRINKS! The South of the Border cocktail was actually very strong compared to the previous drinks. This consisted of tequila (jebus), Mezcal, passionfruit, lime and vanilla. If you want a stronger drink to kickstart a crazy night then this is definitely the one for you. Unfortunately for me, I had work the next day because it was a Wednesday. Fadedddd...
By this point I felt like eating something meaty so it was good to know that the beef tenderloin was the final course (though I was also hoping for dessert but all good). The beef tenderloin was soft, flavoursome and peppery thanks to the meat being rolled in various peppers, BBQ'd, sliced and served medium rare - my ideal way of eating meat. This was plated with the savoury bourbon jus and crunchy garlic crisps. Quite tasty from what I could remember.
Beef Tenderloin - rolled in mixed peppers, barbequed and served medium rare with Bourbon Jus and Garlic Crisps ($24.00)
The final cocktail for the degustation was the sassy Blood and Sand (ok not the name of course but just look at the drink!). This contains various exotic ingredients including chivas, cherry herring, Antica formula, Ardbeg and fresh orange. This was also very strong, sweet and sour thanks to those many unusual ingredients. This was probably why I spent the following day at work quite hungover.
Blood and Sand
All in all, it was a fun night catching up (and possibly embarrassing myself) with many fellow bloggers on a weekday night while exploring the food at this new bar. Compared to other events, I thought this night was well-organised with dishes delivered reasonably on time and having the dishes on display in an underground room with better lighting. The venue was spacious so it was also not too crowded thus making it easy to mingle. While I don't know what it's like on a Friday or Saturday night, the overall vibe was cool, classy, chilled and relaxing with dark lighting throughout most of the venue. Wouldn't mind coming back another night for a drink or four on the weekend.
Disclaimer: The Random Foodie attended the launch event, courtesy of Bonnie Wu of The Carlisle Bar. Opinions remain personal.
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The Carlisle Bar
2 Kellett Way, Potts Point NSW 2011
(02) 9331 0058
Thurs-Sun: 6:00pm - late