Nestled near the convenience of Wynyard station and Darling Harbour, The Streets of Barangaroo might be one of Sydney, Australia’s best-kept secrets, with recent developments seeing this once unsightly corner of the city transform into a bustling centre of retail and dining.
Indeed, without the commotion of Pitt or George streets, it’s perfect for a leisurely amble, combining a sense of suburban calm with dozens of bars, boutique outfitters, eateries, upscale outlets and bespoke services.
Whether you’re in need of a shave, a new suit or dinner, here are four of the best places to visit when you’re next in Barangaroo
The Barber Shop
Address: Shop 3, 33 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo NSW 2000
Having maintained a short, stubble-flecked beard for two years now, I was apprehensive about my visit to The Barber Shop. Selecting the Hot Towel Face Shave from the menu, I was fully prepared for a massacre of nicks, slices and ingrown hairs once the gentlemen here had a go with my face.
I was wrong to worry. The barbers follow a process that is methodical, almost surgical: an unguarded electric razor shave, followed by a hot towel, shaving cream, traditional cutthroat shave and a once over for good measure.
Despite the stubbornness of my dense facial hair, there wasn’t a speck of blood nor a spot of unsightly razor burn of which to speak. A pleasant change from my teenage years spent agonising over a bathroom sink with a store-bought disposable razor.
With nothing but peach fuzz on my chin and my cheeks, I was left to enjoy a complimentary pint of Young Henrys and take in the setting. The nostalgic layout and design is a relief from the clinical, shopping mall hairdressers of present, with the quality of service anything but old fashioned. Between a soundtrack of UK hip-hop and friendly, talkative staff, The Barber Shop is perfect for all your modern grooming needs.
Address: Shop 1, 3 Sussex Street, Barangaroo NSW 2000
“People will sometimes tell me that our clothes are expensive,” Oscar Leal, Creative Director for Belancē, tells me as he walks me around the store. “I think that’s crazy.”
Although I was suspicious, Oscar’s rundown of Belancē’s tailoring services is impressive, telling me he can alter everything from materials used to the shape and fit of a customer’s sleeve or shoulder. When he starts quoting prices, it’s difficult to believe he’s talking about a tailored suit; he could just as well be talking about the price of anything that’s come off a rack.
Browsing the material and styles on offer, I eventually come across two magazines on display: an issue of Fantastic Man featuring American rapper Tyler, The Creator, and an issue of Another Man with actor Ben Whishaw on the cover. It’s only then that I notice the contemporary range of apparel on offer in the store, including sneakers and sunglasses.
“We don’t order this stuff in bulk,” explains Oscar. “If somebody buys a pair of sunglasses, then they’ve bought them. That’s it.”
During my tour of the store, he inveighs against fast fashion – an industry he worked in for 10 years and he says he “hated” – which is at least part of the impetus for Belancē. While the now-closed store in Paddington once catered toward tailoring, the Barangaroo location also carries accessible wears such as chinos and linen shirts that are durable and adaptable for the businessman of today.
The Meat and Wine Co
Address: GF, International Tower One, 100 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo NSW 2000
Sometimes it’s all in a name. At The Meat and Wine Co, the simplicity is liberating, with a menu brimming with premium cuts of lamb, chicken and beef served with a selection of rare and vintage wines.
With a panoramic view of the city skyline, a meal here feels like a throwback to the sort of steakhouses that are nowadays muddled by themes and motifs. The uncomplicatedness of the food here coupled with the views make for a dining experience that is completely unique in its straightforwardness.
Of course, steak makes for an obvious choice for the main, with cuts of meat sourced from The Meat and Wine Co’s exclusive Monte Paddock. Ribs and cheeseburgers are just as tempting, though, with seafood options including barramundi and salmon fillet rounding out a robust menu.
The only time you might labour over a choice is when it comes to picking a bottle of wine. So broad is the menu here that prices start with affordable regional sparkling wines, all the way through to vintage rarities, such as the 1996 Penfolds ‘Grange’ from regional South Australia.
If you’re looking for something reliable and sophisticated, it’s hard to pass up a meal with The Meat and Wine Co.
Address: Shop 7A, 100 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo NSW 2000
I’m taken aback by Justin Marmot; at 10 o’clock on a Wednesday night, he’s bounding with energy, impeccably dressed and confidently swivelling between tables. His vigour is necessary to run something like Shirt Bar, a hybrid boutique that acts as a cafe in the morning, a Ganton retailer in the afternoon and a speakeasy-style bar at night.
Boasting an encyclopedic knowledge of whiskies from around the world, he’s excited to take me on a curated tour of three different drops, explaining along the way the difference between Irish and Scottish drops, as well as the regulations that ensure US whiskey is only ever produced in Kentucky or Tennessee.
We start with a Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky. The perfect balance between sweet and subtle, it’s followed well by Limeburners, a single malt that carries a profile reminiscent of its Western Australian wine-growing origins.
Perhaps most exciting, though, is a Scottish single malt courtesy of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. With Shirt Bar one of only 12 bars to be part of the society, tasting this whisky is a privilege; its complexity of flavours and sharp finish are a far cry from the run-of-the-mill, store-bought alternative.
By the time I’ve surveyed the rest of the store – fitting rooms discretely hidden by walls of shirts, rollaway dining tables that double as part of the scenery – I can’t help but ask what would possess Justin to run a store as devilishly complex as this. “If you come in for a wedding, I want to know your story; where you met, where you’re getting married, the theme of the wedding,” he explains. “It’s because I care about bespoke services.”
Indeed, with the sort of passion and knowledge he exhibits in our brief conversation, there’s no reason to doubt him. Whether you need a fitted shirt, a cup of coffee or a place to unwind after a busy day, Shirt Bar’s quality of service is unparalleled.