Back in the 19th Century, surveyor and civil engineer John Busby was a major player in the colony of Sydney, securing a clean and reliable supply of water to the fledgling city. For almost three decades, the network he set up linking Centennial Park to the city was the sole water supply for the metropolis.
Today, his name lives on in a private dining space underneath Riley Street Garage just to the east of the Sydney CBD. The venue is upscale enough for corporate functions but maintains a pleasing rough-around-the-edges vibe that nods to the building’s former life as a garage and the broader history of the area as an important industrial hub.
The setting is several levels more interesting than a tired boardroom and draws on both an industrial aesthetic and a luxurious style, with rough-hewn walls, exposed rafters, hanging lights and leather banquettes making for an atmospheric space.
The food comes from the same kitchen as the stylish upstairs restaurant (Riley Street Garage) where Regan Porteous is Executive Chef. The menu can include premium sharing options such as 800 gram 90+ Riverine dry-aged beef or Moreton Bay Bug tempura as well as top-notch canapes like freshly shucked oysters with a nicely smoky soy truffle dressing.
Given that John Busby’s son James is known as one of the Australian wine industry’s founding fathers and introduced the first Spanish and French wine stock into Australia, it’s fitting that the wine list is extensive and includes bottles from both those nations along with local selections.
There is also a suite of cocktails paying tribute to pioneering figures in the local area, including cartographer and navigator Captain Flinders, shipwright Captain Taylor and Mr Busby himself.
There are also evergreen cocktails such as Old Fashioned, Negroni and Margarita and a range of beers from local bespoke brewer Endeavour. A range of top-shelf spirits, including Johnnie Walker Blue, Grey Goose and Red Breast 15-year-old.
The venue holds 55 standing patrons or 36 seated and is ideal for a small corporate retreat or to entertain clients. It can be configured with either a long table in the central room or a cocktail set up.
For global venues, try Grillid in Iceland, The Ivy Garden City in London or the Michelin-starred restaurants of Bangkok.