I think I may have found my favourite bar in Sydney. Love Tilly Devine, a shout out to the rambunctious Brothel Madame of the same name, who painted Sydney's crustier suburbs red with obscene language, whoring, offensive behaviour and fighting back in ye olde days.
Considering Madame Tilly's behaviour, It's only natural that this 40-seater hole in the wall sprung up out of a disused pub cellar, tucked away in a back lane behind the flashy car dealerships and glittering Prussia Royalty store of William Street. It's everything you could ever want in a wine bar; you can sit at the bar, teetering on rickety stools and chowing down on clever bar snacks to match a stellar, 300 bottle wine list, or you can tuck yourself away in a dark corner and get up to all kinds of naughty mischief, a glass of slightly fizzy French cider in hand.
The service is as immaculate as the food. Our bottle of rosé is brought over, introduced with gusto and poured with precision by bespectacled co-owner Matt Swieboda (ex. Quay, Pier & Est.), the Burrawong duck liver pate is as light, creamy and smooth as I could ever hope.
The large 23-litre glass container of what is labelled 'natural wine' sitting on the counter is explained by Swieboda as a conglomerate of grapes from regions stretching from the Barossa to Margaret River. 'Spring Twenty10 red' it's coined, and is unfiltered, preservative, acid and tannin free (definitely no fish or egg particles here), a layer of olive oil on top keeps it fighting fresh. Wine is poured by the pint and comes served in a vintage milk jar. It's a spicy and short, middle bodied red, and not all bad!
A short wander from the CBD, it's more than worth the stroll while the weather holds out, if you can't cipher through the book-heavy wine list, ask for a recommendation, you won't be disappointed.
91 Crown Lane, East Sydney
(02) 9326 9243