The Local Bar – Neutral Bay

Sometimes you’ll find a bar that just works. It might not have fancy décor or a quirky theme but …

Actually, on second thought, maybe it’s because The Local Bar is so pared back that it feels right to me.

After all, there’s no kitsch, no retro furniture, no irony in the décor – in fact, it even has grey brick walls and looks out onto a desolate alley that’s about as urban as Neutral Bay gets.

And yet it’s cosy, warm, the staff are super friendly (and this is the first time I’ve ever used the word “super” in over three years of writing for Bar Zine) and it has a great wine list – not to mention a cocktail list that includes my beloved sazerac.

Although the décor is minimal, there are some nice touches: there’s a mural (featuring fish and wine bottles) on the back wall, black leather banquettes and a pressed metal bar counter, as well as odd little lamps that hang from a coat rack on the wall (these are the fanciest bits of decoration I can spot).

Most importantly for a bar like this, the music is quiet enough so you can conduct a conversation – although considering that my date insists on talking about religion when I want to talk about booty, perhaps they should pump up the volume (The Doors are currently playing) a little more.

The food here is meant to be shared and snacked on, such as the artichoke dip with ciabatta bread ($10), the grilled haloumi with lemon ($12), marinated olives (ligurian, kalamata and sicilian – $8) and the Quattro Stelle salami (calabressi, tartufo, lonza, ndjuja – $9). I try the olives and salami and, while I like the olives, it’s the salami that’s fantastic – this is MUCH better than the smallgoods you usually get.

But this is a bar, and so onto the liquor. It’s a cold night, so I forgo a sazerac and order a glass of the 2009 Radford Menagerie mataro grenache shiraz ($10 for a 150ml serve. They also have wine by the glass in 75ml and 375ml serves) while my serious friend orders the 2010 Elio Grasso dolcetto d’alba from Piemonte, Italy ($13 for 150ml). I think I got the better deal, but both are great.

Overall, I like The Local Bar. A lot. In fact, I can’t even find fault – although I still have to go back to try their sazerac. Admittedly, this isn’t the type of bar I normally go to – it’s a happy, buzzy place for couples whereas I usually like dark bars with long counters and bar stools for me to hunch on alone – but, if I have to have a long winded conversation about religion, then at least this place – and its wine and salami selection – makes it tolerable.

The Local Bar, 8 Young Lane, Neutral Bay. See The Local Bar website

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