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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Assembly Bar, Sydney

beef short ribs at assembly bar

So Sydney is riddled with cool hip hidden bars but what happens when it's so well disguised that nobody knows it's there? Assembly Bar is one of the newest tenants at Regent Place - you know, the building near KFC on George Street, near Lumiere, where Chefs Gallery is, and Ton Ton Ramen and Azuma Patisserie and ohhh I didn't know that was called Regent Place...

Assembly sits directly beneath Azuma Kushiyaki, opening in late 2011. It's the latest venture by Ben Touass, the man behind Pocket bar in Darlinghurst. The space is large and open, with exposed pipes, hanging metal lamps and slate grey walls giving it an industrial feel. Chesterfield lounges, robot etchings on the wall and an astroturf lawn at the entrance provide quirkiness and warmth, but the headless mannequins on the mezzanine level do add a haunting eeriness.

Assembly Bar with headless mannequins above

There are 22 cocktails on the menu, with cheeky names like For Shizzle My Treacle -- Jamaican rum and cinnamon with white chocolate foam and pear, $19 -- and Betty & Camp, a Campari, grapefruit and raspberry concoction ($17) that promises to "compliment any outfit and makes you look smarter".

truffle fries at assembly bar
Assembly's fries + cheese + truffle sauce $13

Tonight, however, we're all about beers and bar food. There are no beers available on tap but several bottles of ale keep us occupied throughout the evening.

The bar menu offers a mix of shareable starters, snacks and entree-sized dishes. The most expensive item is the cured meat board at $25, but most dishes hover around the $14 mark. The Assembly fries sound promising with the temptation of cheese and truffle sauce, but at $13 it's quite a small serve of chips with a tiny pot of sauce that vaguely smells like truffles.

piquillo croquettes at assembly bar
Smoked provolone croquettes and piquillo peppers $10

Smoked provolone croquettes, on the other hand, offer much more value: five golden orbs that are blistering hot from the deep-fryer. The coating is thin and crunchy, and the cheese is almost gooey on the inside. A spicy piquillo pepper sauce is perfect for dipping.

lounges and bar stools at assembly bar
Lounges and bar stools

beef short ribs at assembly bar
Braised sticky short ribs and broccolini $18

The barman behind the counter recommends the braised sticky short ribs for the hungry. Although modest in size, the deboned beef is incredibly rich, ribboned with layers of fat and slow-cooked to a melting unctuousness. A raft of broccolini spears sits beneath the beef, but it still seems like quite a heart-clogging dish to eat on its own.

pork hot dog with truffle sauce at assembly bar
Pork frankfurt hotdog with truffle cheese sauce and potato shoestrings $10

There are several loose interpretations of menu items that cause some debate on arrival. A hot dog in my books always comes on a soft bun, but the pork and truffle hotdog arrives in a crusty roll that looks like the par-bake kind. There's not much truffle cheese sauce either but the potato shoestrings are probably the most disappointing aspect - cold and limp.

pork belly slider at assembly bar
Pork belly slider with spicy sofrito and pickled red cabbage $12

Similarly we'd expected mini hamburger buns to accompany the pork belly slider, but here it's served on sourdough bread, creating what most people would consider a sandwich. The pork belly itself is soft and fatty, and the pickled red cabbage provides crunch and acidity.

calamari fritters at assembly bar
Calamari fritti and capers and a dash of chilli $10

Calamari fritti gets things back on track, rings of tender calamari coated in a light and crispy batter.

quinoa salad at assembly bar
Quinoa, cucumber, cashews and tahini dressing $10

But the surprise dish of the night is the quinoa salad, a bowl of nutty quinoa tossed through with cherry tomatoes, cucumber and toasted cashews and pecans. It's soul-reviving and a welcome find. You could say the same for Assembly Bar.

assembly bar

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Assembly Bar
488 Kent Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9283 8808

Opening hours:
Monday to Saturday 12pm til late

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17 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 3/08/2012 02:29:00 am


  • At 3/08/2012 5:05 am, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    When I ordered the 'sliders' and sandwiches came instead, I thought they'd run out of mini hamburger buns; apparently not! The fries in the hotdog look so underdone! And the chips are still the most overpriced in Sydney. Assembly is great for drinks but the food is pretentiously underdone.

  • At 3/08/2012 8:58 am, Blogger Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said…

    As per usual, Thank you for finding those little hard to find places. I'm loving certain things on the menu but I have to say $13 for a small bowl of chips?????!!!!!!!
    Were they dusted in gold? The quinoa looks like my favourite here!

  • At 3/08/2012 9:42 am, Anonymous lau@corridorkitchen said…

    "ohhh I didn't know that was called Regents Place..."

    I didn't! Good to know.

    $13 fries and a slider that's really a sandwich though? No thanks. I'll take this off my soon-to-try bar list.

  • At 3/08/2012 10:22 am, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    The hot dog just looks sad in comparison to what you can get these days (el Loco especially)... It's nice to see the small bar trend spread though :)

  • At 3/08/2012 10:25 am, Anonymous tani said…

    looks like its drinks only at this place, looks interesting if a bit hard surfaced.

  • At 3/08/2012 10:39 am, Anonymous JasmyneTea said…

    Looks like they have some improvement ahead of them, but the drinks sound really interesting!

  • At 3/08/2012 11:48 am, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    Wow! Sticky short ribs FTW! This sounds like my kinda place.

  • At 3/08/2012 3:36 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Aw, that sucks that the upmarket chip butty failed so badly! But hurrah for quinoa. It is The Delicious.

  • At 3/08/2012 4:41 pm, Blogger Jacq said…

    So that's what's lurking down below Azuma Kushiyaki - I think I saw it when the bar was getting built but haven't been past it since! Will have to check it out for the croquettes and cocktails!

  • At 3/09/2012 1:35 pm, Anonymous gastronomous anonymous said…

    i have walked past this place many times! looks like a very cool place... great photos - cant wait to check it out!

  • At 3/09/2012 10:09 pm, Anonymous SarahKate said…

    That quinoa salad looks incredible! I'm on a quinoa kick lately. Might have to try making a version of this myself!

  • At 3/10/2012 10:25 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Didn't know it was called Regents Place either. Thought it was Regent Place ...

  • At 3/10/2012 11:31 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Sarah Kate - I've been getting into quinoa too. Adding toasted walnuts is my latest thing. Also great with sweet corn.

    Hi Anon - Argh errant 's'. You're correct. It's been amended now. Thanks for the prompt.

  • At 3/12/2012 8:46 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We were here last week...Had a great time...must say..the slider looked different to the sandwich in the pics..It was an actual slider...yum!!! Great pics by the way

  • At 3/13/2012 8:14 am, Anonymous Eat drink and be Kerry said…

    Looks like a very cute bar. I can feel a trip to Sydney coming on.

  • At 3/21/2012 12:27 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    'The Assembly fries' only cost $8 (not $13) and they are so delicious...yum :)

  • At 3/29/2012 2:35 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Anon - It looks like Assembly have recently dropped the price of their fries (I have a pic of the menu listing them at $13). Good news - $8 seems much more reasonable!


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