Smoke, Barangaroo House
35 Barangaroo Ave, Sydney
Monday – Wednesday, 3pm – 12am.
Thursday – Sunday, 12pm – 12am
Drinking and dining at a bar that sits in Barangaroo’s heart is expected to be beyond excellent, especially when owned by renowned Chef and food entrepreneur Matt Moran.
Our experience wasn’t quite that.
Arriving on a Sunday, we were excited for a chilled atmosphere, flowing drinks, picturesque views and of course intricate meals designed by the legend himself. Instead, I was greeted with three-quarters of a beer spilt on my lap which was somehow accredited to the wind.
There’s no denying, it does get windy – but who knew mid summer to autumn could get THAT windy to spill a beer from placing a drink from tray to table.
After cleaning myself up we began ordering. Being a larger group we knew that there would be some confusion with orders especially when waiters insisted that they remembered all of the drinks and food, without a notepad.
Already it wasn’t promising.
When the waiter fronted the group again with drinks, we all soon realised that maybe only half of the cocktails were being brought out. We re-confirmed with her that we were waiting on a few more cocktails… she insisted that they were coming. Almost 30 minutes later she returned, and still forgot two Jack Daniels with coke ($13 each).
I know cocktails take a bit of time to make – but 30 minutes? Especially when the venue was somewhat empty.
But this was just the beginning.
After trying to score the waiters attention for what seemed like an entire hour – she finally approached us with a careless expression. The food ordering began.
Knowing that Smoke specialised in intricate sliders and sharing plates, we decided that we’d order majority of the menu so that we could all give it a try – maybe this would give us an insight into the renowned Smoke.
Is Smoke as good as they say? Or does it only have this goddess like reputation because of Matt Moran’s title? We were about to find out.
With the previous drinks debacle in mind, we decided that maybe it was easier for our waiter to only order a few sharing plates at a time. So we ordered one or two dishes, she’d walk away and we’d wave her over almost two minutes later to order again – something that I don’t think I’ve ever had to endure at any venue.
Although by this point, customer service was woeful – the food took us all by surprise. Some of the most unusual, and traditional bar food type meals were used by Smoke with a more un-traditional twist.
The Barramundi Sliders sitting at $14 shocked us all. The fish was extremely fresh and was successfully executed with a combination of punchy relish and the perfect warmed bun. Pairing the sliders with a Balcony Cup is a strong recommendation. The goblet glass was infused with regal rogue rosé, fino, Frangelico, mint, riberry and fever-tree ginger beer ($18) – probably the second best cocktail available at Smoke especially for the season.
Opting for Smoke’s notorious Ocean Trout Rillettes with pickled watermelon rind and seaweed cracker ($16) was by far the best choice we made. Everything from the abnormally shaped seaweed crackers and the perfectly brewed flavour combination of the trout with watermelon rind harmoniously worked together, especially for the season – you expect fresh, chilled and light, that’s exactly what’s served in front of you.
But be warned – don’t choose the Ocean Trout Rillette on a windy day – if a cracker falls before landing at your table the waiters will happily replace them for you with a secret charge of $7 a cracker.
Following your visit to Smoke, if you enjoy a sweeter and floral taste to the palette in terms of cocktails; definitely consider the Field Day. The ingredients of this concoction definitely caught my eye, and even after the service issues we experienced I would most likely visit Smoke again just for this cocktail…
With Belverde vodka, apple liqueur, chamomile, pineapple, lemon and flowers sitting at $21 is fairly priced for the natural yet invigorated taste following first sip. The Field Day was by far, Smoke’s best cocktail on the menu.
If you opt for a more creamier and decadent drink, try the White Choc’olada (alternate to Piña Coladas) which is whipped with white chocolate, Bacardi Fuego spiced, pineapple, lemon and white chocolate foam ($22) – something you won’t want to get caught in the rain with.
As a recommendation in terms of value for meal – I wouldn’t justify choosing the Selection of Cured Meats for $26. The tiny wooden cheese platter board isn’t exactly bang for your buck. Personally, knowing how much cured meats, cheeses, fresh breads and dips usually cost at other venues, being served 30g of cured meats for a whopping $26 is a bit of a joke. Unless of course the meats were painted in gold.
At the time of receiving the bill, we were all surprised by the extra meals, drinks and seaweed crackers that we were expected to pay for. There were four extra Jack Daniels and cokes charged, two extra cocktails, an extra Barramundi slider and those seaweed crackers that the waiter said she would happily replace – were also charged to the bill.
Although Smoke doesn’t ace the service check box, they do expertise in their meals, cocktails and atmosphere.
Smoke at Barangaroo House is great for a small party to enjoy drinks on their iconic rooftop that overlooks the Harbour. Its minimalist approach in terms of décor reminds me of a recent Domayne catalogue. For me, this design is quite attractive especially when meals and drinks served also use the same aesthetic and approach.
Sadly, by the end of my experience it was a lot of smoke and no fire.
Feature image: Barangaroo House Facebook