Then again, calling it a bar might be misleading as there’s no standing room here: this is a tables and chairs affair where you’re meant to sip your drinks while munching on delicacies. Having said that, this hole-in-the-wall’s seductive atmosphere certainly makes it intimate thanks to the candles, carved wooden wall and overall ambiance that stylishly reflects the bar’s Middle Eastern approach.
I turn up on a Wednesday night with the Amazonian Croatian and Almond Bar is so full we only just snag a table (I suggest booking ahead). We immediately order cocktails: the Amazonian goes for the Habibi (muddled lime, Pama, vodka and sugar syrup) while I opt for the Tom Collins (gin, lime juice, soda water and a home-made sour mix).
The Habibi is beautiful, like a pink caipiroska and with the added sweetness you’d expect from a Lebanese palate. The colour and, to some degree, the sweetness are due to the Pama, a liqueur made from pomegranates that the Amazonian is particularly fond of.
Because the menu is filled with sweet and (dare I say it) girly drinks – think apple martinis, Cosmopolitans and various types of Breezes – that I’m not a fan of, I go for a Tom Collins (gin, lime juice, soda and home-made sweet and sour mix).
I’m happy with the result: although I’m sceptical of most sour mixes, this works well and leads to a good rendition of the drink, albeit one that’s slightly sweeter than I’m used to.
Having said that, it’s the food here that’s the standout (and I don’t often say that on Bar Zine). We order a share plate that has lamb and chicken kebabs, coriander potatoes, olives and a great muhammara dip made from char-grilled red capsicum, chilli, walnut and pomegranates.
The lamb kebabs are to die for: succulent, tender and full of flavour and better than the ones I usually get in most Surry Hills places. The potatoes are lovely and the only criticism I have is with the olives, which are decent but nothing special.
There’s also a good wine selection: I particularly like the Cape Barren Native Goose shiraz and there are also some international wines, including ones from Lebanon, Austria and Argentina. Another good point is the service, which was friendly throughout.
To be honest, I often end Bar Zine reviews by saying I’ll be back to the bar I’m reviewing soon and I usually never get around to it – there are just too many bars in Sydney to check out. Having said that, I really do plan on coming back to Almond Bar, if only for those kebabs.
Almond Bar, 379 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst. Open Tuesday to Sunday. Phone 9380 5318 or see the Almond Bar website
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate Almond Bar?