What a coup for Sydney. The much-celebrated Finland-born chef Pasi Petanen has opened an instant hit in Café Paci. This is immediately one of Australia’s best wine bars.
It’s a joyous experience from the moment you lay eyes on the inviting, royal blue curve of the bar and catch the bustle of the venue. Wine and drinks are outstanding. Food is off the charts. The space is original and comfortable, the staff affable and well-versed in their quarry.
Of course, we can lay deep praise at Petanen’s feet for his incredible work in the kitchen – an ever-changing feast of wildly delicious dishes that find touchstones in Finnish roots but swerve into Mexico, France, Italy and wherever he finds inspiration that week.
The menu that gifted us Petanen’s formidable and beautiful potato and molasses bread returns us that hearty loaf and adds in new hits like potato dumplings with XO sauce, devilled egg with trout roe, and sourdough pasta with pear and pecorino.
Meanwhile, the bottle collection is epic. Thanks to the renowned sommelier-importer Giorgio de Maria’s outstanding wine (and spirit) list, drinkers have a cornucopia to select from, with a strong, if not definitive, natural wine focus.
While all things organic and minimal intervention are celebrated, the spread of styles sees more classic wines (think great artisan producers of Piedmont, Valtellina, Sicily) equally met by the esoteric and avant-garde.
Boundaries are pushed, however, which makes for a greater experience. Obscure grape varieties, unusual European wine regions, and oblique wine styles find prominent places on the list.
While some visitors may balk at that promise, the wine team are experts and interact in full with guests – indeed, the best nights at Café Paci are often when the drinks waiters navigate your evening, charting a course for drinks that best match your dishes.
Orange wines, pét-nats, chilled, fresh red wines, and white wines with texture are par for the course.
Expect cult wines from the likes of legendary Dario Prinčič, of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, the epic cuvée of Mendall from Catalunya in Spain and a rotating collection of outstanding Georgian wine.
While wine may be the focus, the aperitif and digestif collection is outstanding too, and fittingly, most meals finish with the suggestion to try something deliciously bitter and herbal.
This is an outrageously good place to eat and drink. A stellar bar in every sense.
Top Drinks: 2015 Dario Prinčič Pinot Grigio, this skin-fermented grigio is complex, intriguing and delicious. And in magnum! Argala Amaro Alpino, the Argala range of pastis and friends is outstanding, made from natural and native ingredients with this incredibly good amaro imbued with alpine, minty herbs and spice.
Drink + Food Match: Chicken liver Paris-Brest nearly needs no pairing, but it sure is outstanding with the lemony fresh and palate resetting, Cerruti RiFol Moscato.
Best Dish: It’s a tussle between the potato and molasses bread with butter, so simple, so flavoursome and so good, and the fun-loving dessert item of Hundreds and Thousands ice cream.
OTHER INNER WEST SYDNEY BARS
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