New Orleans inspired NOLA opens at Barangaroo [gallery]

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New Orleans inspired NOLA opens at Barangaroo [gallery]
NOLA has opened at The Streets of Barangaroo.

With more than 500 American whiskies on offer, a New Orleans-inspired restaurant called NOLA Smokehouse and Bar has been added to the food offering at The Streets of Barangaroo in Sydney.

NOLA (an abbreviation of New Orleans, Louisiana) occupies a 500sqm site and boasts a large spirits-driven bar and restaurant space. The restaurant has seating for 80, the private dining room for 14 and the bar has a capacity of 180.

More than half of NOLA is dedicated to the bar that champions leading American whiskies in its 500+ collection – due to increase to 1,000 throughout the year. The spirits offering is constantly changing with limited edition and hard-to-find single bottles being added to the list every week. This means the venue doesn’t offer a spirits list.

“To be honest, the range of spirits is growing so rapidly that we’d be reprinting the list every week. Our bar staff are walking encyclopaedias and it makes sense to utilise their experience and passion for the products. We encourage customers to have a chat with the staff, tell them what they like and they’ll either find it or suggest a spirit based on their preferences,” said Pete Fischer, owner and group general manager.

As well as procuring two of the four bottles of Michter’s Celebration Sour Mash shipped to Australia (Rockpool Bar and Grill is the only other Sydney venue to have one) – the final swansong of master distiller Willie Pratt – the bar team has also sourced limited edition Pappy Van Winkle bottles, Knob Creek Smoked Maple Bourbon, High West Yippee Ki-Yay and Seven Stills Chocasmoke, a craft beer inspired spirit made from chocolate oatmeal stout.

Classic cocktails such as the Sazerac (cognac, Peychaud, Gomme, Absinthe); Hurricane (Bacardi Carta Fuego, Cachaça, Jamaican rum, passionfruit, pomegranate, orange); Grasshopper (Eristoff Vodka, Branca Menta, cacao liqueur, cream); and Ramos Gin Fizz (gin, citrus, cream, orange blossom, fizz), are also on offer.

The culinary history of New Orleans has been influenced by French, Spanish, Mexican, South American and North African flavours, and rather than just focusing on Cajun and Creole, the food menu at NOLA Smokehouse & Bar features dishes, spices and flavours from these countries.

Executive chef Richard Duff said “Customers usually associate Southern food with barbequed meats, and that does form a large part of our menu. But the reality is New Orleans cuisine has had some eclectic influences over the last few centuries which has resulted in quite a broad food and flavour offering. Our menu is an extension of that and includes house-made smoked meats and seafood broils through to dishes with an obvious French influence.”

Two large smokers, which can fit about 30 briskets each or up to 120 chickens, are preparing meats such as Jack’s Creek dry aged beef brisket, dry rubbed and smoked for 14 hours; organic chicken tea-brined smoked and blackened; Junee lamb spit roasted over coals; and Melanda Park pork shoulder, smoked and pulled, in 100 and 200g serves as well as larger shared portions.

Also on offer is the Pit-Masters Pick, providing 50g of each meat as well as a side and sauce for $43 per person.

House-made sauces include the Green Sauce (referred to by Duff as the ‘bastard child of chermoula and chimichurri’); Lexington style BBQ ketchup; and Bois Boudran relish.

Side dishes include Mac ‘n’ cheese; crisp okra with chipotle aioli; and BBQ spiced garlic corn.

For those wanting something other than meat, the menu also includes Hiramasa kingfish pastrami with pomegranate, heirloom tomatoes, crème fraiche, nasturtiums and rye crumbs; whole flounder with parsley salad, activated nus and seeds and legumes; and char-grilled miso eggplant with scallions, smoked peanuts, herbs, curd and tomato.

Sommelier Jarrod Mills will join the team later this month, with a CV that includes Bambini Trust Restaurant and Wine Room, est., Berowra Waters Inn, Guillaume at Bennelong and Rockpool. The current 150+ list favours influences from countries with historical associations to Louisiana including France, Spain and South America, as well as Australian and New Zealand offerings.

Luchetti Krelle designed the venue using vivid colours; an azure timber floor which complements the white timber; and a copper-clad kitchen pass. The bar is framed in iron lacework, a signature architectural element from the streets of New Orleans. The bar also has a copper bar-top, reclaimed oak facings and custom brass drinks ledges.

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