Almost everyone who’s been to Sydney has walked around the bustling streets near Town Hall. With the Queen Victoria Building on one side and the start of Pitt Street Mall on the other, this section of George Street is never short on foot traffic. Yet, in one hidden alleyway you would never venture down unless you knew what you were looking for, is a little oasis from the chaos.
Walking into Temperance lane from George St, the only clue to Esteban’s whereabout are the neat tables and chairs outside. When you get closer, their neon sign confirms you’re in the right place.
Walking down into the basement of this two-level restaurant, things get moody. Candles are glowing off the heritage exposed sandstone walls, towering archways, and timber beams. The lighting stays low, keeping the atmosphere cosy and intimate.
Side note, I know this is weird, but I can’t be the only one who loves an interesting toilet, and Esteban’s looks like it’s right out of a scene from Charlie’s Angels. Case and point:
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The space used to be an old printing shop, but now the small room draws focus to it’s huge bar, stacked high with bottles. Every now and then a tram rolls by, causing the dining room to rattle slightly. It just adds to the speakeasy feeling though.
The drinks list is long, as it should be, and OH my god, the cocktails are unique stupidly delicious. They’ve brought over the Tequila Mockingbird signature spicy cocktail, and I also loved an apple margarita-type combo.
As for the food, let’s just say it’s a pure delight. There aren’t a lot of vegetarian options, but the ones they do have make that perfectly ok. The Spinach Queso Tamales are probably the best things I’ve eaten in weeks. The Charred Camote sweet potato dish was also divine.
Don’t worry meat eaters, I took a friend (and serious foodie) who literally would not shut up about his food. He tried the Wattleseed Rubbed Duck Breast and the Spicy Yellowfin Tuna, so I take this as a good sign.
We both had a dig at the Dark Chocolate Fondant and, my personal favourite, the Popcorn Ice Cream & White Chocolate Mousse. I left here feeling like I needed to carry my stomach — which proved a terrible idea for trying to run for the bus home later, but I absolutely do not regret.
If you can’t decide, there’s always the set tasting menu for $89 per person, as long as there’s at least two of you dining.
In summary: I loved it, and definitely recommend. I just don’t suggest running for your bus with a super full belly afterwards.
(All Images: Provided / Steven Woodburn)
Kassia is the Editor of AWOL, and a straight-up travel addict. She was born without a sense of direction, yet an intense desire to explore the world. As such, she's lost 90% of the time but she's learned to roll with it. You can catch her latest adventures on Instagram @probably_kassia.