The team behind Tequila Mockingbird will launch a new venue in Sydney’s CBD on 27 October.

Restaurant, taqueria, tequila and mezcal bar, Esteban will take up residence in the space that housed pop-up Tequila on York. The venue was previously home to laneway bar Grasshopper, with the main entrance on Temperance lane.

It’s the second venue for Atticus Hospitality Group and is co-owned by Group Director Michael Fegent, Executive Bar Manager Mark Crawford, and General Manager Luca Bielli.

Executive Group Chef John Frid will lead the kitchen, which will feature a menu that ranges from street vendor-inspire snacks to large asado share plates.

The split-level venue’s design reflects its heritage as a printing shop, with exposed sandstone walls, towering archways and timber beams. Sydney architects Humphrey & Edwards looked to high-end art deco design from the 1930s as well as the underground basement bars of Mexico city.

A 65-seater subterranean taqueria, tequila and mezcal will take up the basement space, featuring a mix of banquette and booth seating. Raw elements such as a natural granite bar top and custom timber mezcal and tequila cabinets, will be offset by warm leathers and feature lighting.

With just 45 seats, the upstairs restaurant will offer a more intimate experience, exclusively for dining. Sydney-born artist Nanami Cowdroy has created a floor-to-ceiling mural inspired by the works of Mexican artist Diego Rivera, which takes centre stage opposite an open kitchen with counter seating.

Frid’s menu showcases regional dishes and traditional Mexican cooking techniques, with influences ranging from Mayan, Aztec, Spanish and Portuguese to Afro-Caribbean while incorporating native Australian ingredients and locally sourced produce.

Soft corn tortillas will be hand-crafted daily using a custom-designed tortilla machine imported from Guadalajara, Mexico. A tailor-made Parilla grill and vertical charcoal rotisserie will burn charcoal from native Australian ironbark.

The restaurant menu will centre charcoal-grilled meats and vegetables, all cooked on the 3.4 metre barbecue, which will ensure food is not cooked by direct flames. Dishes will include tacos al pastor,  Hiramasa Kingfish Ceviche served with watermelon sorbet, chile Verde, eschalot, sea bananas and plantain Frito; Wattleseed Rubbed Duck Breast with aji Amarillo [Peruvian yellow chile pepper]; a 1KG Wagyu Delmonico Rib Eye MBS 6+ accompanied by a choice of salsa flight or porcini Mulato butter; and Tres Camotes, a dessert comprised of sweet potato tart, sweet potato ice cream and sweet potato meringue.

The restaurant will serve dinner Tuesday through to Saturday, as well as lunch on Wednesday through to Friday.

The basement bar and alfresco will dish up a street-food style menu from Tuesday through Saturday for lunch, dinner and late-night until 12.30am. The menu of snacks and light bites will showcase dishes such as tacos, ceviche and tortas. A margarita flight featuring Margarita-style cocktails paired with three signature tacos will be on offer too. The street kitchen menu is also available for takeaway and can be ordered online.

The basement bar will house a impressive spirits collection that emphasises mezcal and agave varietals.

Crawford and his team have crafted menu of signature cocktails that make the most of house-made infusions, as well as premium tequila flights, and a selection of new and old-world wines. A roving trolley will give diners in either the restaurant or bar area the opportunity to try a range of tequila and mezcal. Whether taken as a digestif or aperitf, the tastings will be accompanied by small bites such as cheese and chocolate to bring out the diverse flavours and aromas of tequila and mezcal.

Esteban will be open Tuesday to Saturday from 11:30am to 1am.

Photography: Steven Woodburn

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