Soul music is playing in the background, black and white photos of musicians (including Blondie) line one wall (and above them there’s a glass case filled with old ghetto blasters), there’s a booth on one side, dining tables down the back and, perhaps most comforting of all (at least to an alco like me) is the great bar counter. Set on white patterned bricks that look like they came from a 70s garden wall, it even comes complete with little stepladders that serve as surprisingly comfortable bar stools. Even though it’s a little past 6 the bar is already filling up and I just manage to nab a small table up the front.
Bootleg Bar’s name also has connotations of gin and speakeasies but its specialty is in wine and Italian food such as lasagna with veal and ricotta (although there are spirits behind the bar there’s no cocktail menu – the bartender says they can make drinks such as martinis as long as they don’t involve perishable fruit).
As such I opt for the Teusner Joshua grenache mourvedre shiraz, which is quaffable (I hate that word – I swear this is the last time I’ll use it!) but it doesn’t wow me.
On my second visit – this time on a Wednesday night – I arrive with the Amazonian Croatian who orders the Archer shiraz while I opt for the Pizzini sangiovese and some arancini with provolone to share.
The Archer is the better of the two in our opinion, with a great aroma that hits me as soon as I stick my big nose into the Amazonian’s glass (thankfully she’s forgiving of my lack of etiquette) and a balanced flavour that’s less sharp than the average shiraz, whereas my Pizzini is good but – ah, what the hell: I’ll call it quaffable with a fresh, fruity taste.
The arancini then comes out as two large balls that are delicious with gooey centres and the Amazonian and I massacre them within seconds despite having eaten just half an hour ago somewhere else.
For me the main attraction of Bootleg Bar is its atmosphere: candle-lit, dark and seductive, with a classy yet edgy design. My only quibble is that, as much as I want to come back to try more of the food, I can’t help wishing they’d ditch the dining tables down the back and put in more booths so it could become more of a bar than a restaurant. Still, judging by the crowds their formula seems to be working. If you want to get a seat here, I suggest coming early or on a school night.
Bootleg Bar, 175 Victoria Street, Potts Point. Phone 9361 3884 or see the Bootleg Bar website. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 5pm
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate Bootleg Bar?