The QVB’s not exactly your average shopping centre but it still feels weird going to a bar there. After all, as the Amazonian Croatian and I head up on a Wednesday night we pass tourists taking photos and window shoppers peering through store windows – not exactly the usual crowd we see on our bar hopping adventures. Still, when Negronis and house-made pasta is on offer, we’re willing to take a step on the mild side.
Bacco is on the top level of the QVB and is smaller than its sister venue in Chifley Plaza. In real estate terms you could call it cosy: there’s a pastry counter at the front, a small bar counter inside and some booths and tables. However, thanks to the marble floor, dark wood paneling and small touches such as a shelf filled with old soda siphons, it does have a nice – dare I say European? – feel to it.
The Croatian and I grab a table and order a Negroni and an Italiano Sour. I think the Negroni (Campari, sweet vermouth and gin, which combines to produce a crisp, bitter citrus flavour) is perfectly made but the Croatian prefers her Italiano Sour, which she finds easier to drink. Made from Aperol, Cynar (an aperitif/bitter that has artichoke as its major flavour), lemon juice and citrus syrup, this is a gentler cocktail, and although the Cynar gives it a slight and much needed edge I personally wish it had more oomph (perhaps by making it a wee bit more sour).
Food wise we grab a plate of prosciutto di parma that’s been aged for 24 months, as well as some bresaola (air-dried beef), both of which I recommend (although the prosciutto is the highlight) and we also order the cured kingfish and the lamb ragu.
The ragu is made with house-made wholemeal busiate pasta, port, mixed wild mushrooms and shreds of lamb. This is one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had – the busiate is rustic and has a great texture, the mushrooms are a highlight and the lamb (albeit scarce in my dish) and sauce are beautiful.
The Croatian’s cured kingfish is served with orange segments, fresh herbs and small pieces of toasted brioche. To be honest, this isn’t my type of dish – give me a huge bowl of ragu any day – but the Croatian disagrees with me on this as well and says the kingfish is refreshing and subtle.
We finish off with some glasses of the Villa Antinori Toscana sangiovese from Italy and the Sons of Eden Zephyrus shiraz from the Barossa Valley, and this time we both agree that the sangiovese is the standout of the two.
To be honest, I’m not sure how to sum Bacco up. It’s not a full-on restaurant experience, it doesn’t really feel like a bar (not even a small bar), and it’s certainly not a cafe. It is, however, a pleasant and casual way to spend an evening, especially if you like a good Negroni.
Bacco Wine Bar Pasticceria, Level 2, Queen Victoria Building (QVB), 455 George Street, Sydney. See the Bacco website. Open seven days.
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate Bacco?