Salt Meats Cheese has opened Bar Ombré in Sydney’s Circular Quay. The rooftop bar is the first of its kind for the group, which specialises in Italian dining restaurants, but it’s not the first rodeo for co-founders Edoardo Perlo and Stefano de Blasi — both have extensive experience behind the bar at establishments across Europe.
“We’ve never opened one, but we’ve run bars ourselves,” says Perlo. Still, the new concept required different approach.
“There was a blueprint [for opening Salt Meats Cheese venues],” says Perlo. “This needed more time and energy, in terms of coming up with the new branding and all of that.”
The space itself also threw up a unique set of challenges. “It’s an actual rooftop, it’s not like the last level of an hotel where you have a very comfortable room. We have to deal with the weather conditions, it’s a totally different ball game.”
While the menu draws upon the Salt Meats Cheese ethos of plating up simple Italian dishes using quality produce, the drinks list is at the heart of Bar Ombré’s offering. It’s been designed to complement the rooftop setting and food options, with classic European cocktails and spritzes front and centre. Tipples will include the pear and maple old fashioned; the ‘Forget Me Not’ with Beefeater gin, lychee liqueur, St Germain, lime juice, egg whites and plum bitters; a vanilla and grapefruit barrel-aged Negroni; the ‘Smokin’ Nights’ with Averna Amaro, mezcal, Agnostura bitters, vanilla syrup, cream and cinnamon. The stable of wines will emphasise biodynamic, organic and vegan drops, with Italian wines sitting alongside new world libations.
Spritz will play a starring roll during a daily happy hour (4–6pm). Think variations like the Ombré Spritz with St Germain, mint, fresh lime, prosecco and soda, as well as carafes including Aperol Spritz, Sangria, Margarita, and homemade soda of the day with your choice of spirit.
It’s aperitivo twisted to suit its surrounds, explains Salt Meats Cheese co-founder Edoardo Perlo. “It’s a different culture, in Australia people eat pretty early,” he says. “Aperitivo, I don’t think has really taken off [here]. A lot of people have tried, starting in Melbourne then going to Sydney, but it’s never really been the classic aperitivo that is in Italy. It’s more like you get tapas.”
As such, free bar snacks will roll out after happy hour (from 6pm–8pm), as opposed to during, encouraging guests to hang around long after the sun sets. Expect dishes such as truffled popcorn; wood-fired crackers and pesto; smoked olives; cured pancetta with chilli and pepper; truffle pecorino; and roasted peppers with salsa verde.
The full food menu features daily stretched cheese, cured meats and fresh Ligurian-style home-made pesto. For starters there’s the Ombré Antipasto of burrata, salumi, semi-hard cheese, and pickles, alongside wood baked focaccia with extravergine. Other plates include fried calamari with crumbed zucchini, pickled chilli and aioli; San Daniele prosciutto and burrata with grilled eggplant, basil and rocket pesto; or marinated white anchovies with fresh tomato, herbs and breadcrumbs.
“Bar Ombré is laidback yet sophisticated, a place where you can drop in for a quick bite at the bar and end up sharing a table with new friends you’ve just met,” says Perlo. “We’re thrilled to expand our hospitality offering starting with a relaxed bar where locals can enjoy life’s simple pleasures and embrace Sydney’s golden hours.”
The vibe has been a drawcard when it comes to staffing too, with Perlo positing the concept is appealing to the bartending community. “It’s a lifestyle decision,” he says. “People want to work in great venues, [and] you attract bartenders based on the cocktails [you serve].”
The opening comes after a big year of expansion for the duo — the group now includes nine concepts across Sydney and Brisbane — and Perlo hints that Bar Ombré won’t be the last.
“There might be more different concepts coming in the future.”
Image: Kitti Gould