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The short stretch of Cleveland Street between Bourke and Crown Street in Surry Hills is packed with options when it comes to pubs and wine bars, casual and boutique fine dining options. Enter Dragoncello, a bar and restaurant spread over two levels, with a chic wine bar downstairs – where small plates are de rigueur – and the restaurant upstairs, featuring foraged ingredients and with serious expertise in the kitchen. Downstairs it’s all about wine and mixology, though, and Dragoncello excels here (and it’s one of the few Sydney venues that doesn’t have beer on the menu).
Dragoncello (meaning tarragon in Italian), is the Surry Hills offspring of sommelier Stuart Sanders (formerly of Three Weeds, Koi, and The Beresford) and master chef Roy McVeigh (Berowra Waters Inn and many more in Sydney and around Australia). The restaurant is separate and upstairs, although some of its magic – in the form of small plates and bar food – makes its way down to the stylish, cosy downstairs area where this Cleveland Street wine and cocktail bar peddles its very innovative offering.
Dragoncello is clearly serious about its bar selection, and with sommelier Stuart handed curatorial duties, you can expect an extremely fine selection of international and Australian vintages. We might have mentioned that some of the magic that McVeigh works in the kitchen finds itself wafting back downstairs, and indeed this applies to the artful cocktails on offer at Cleveland Street’s latest upscale local. Experimental cocktails abound, including a classic mojito whose point of difference is that it’s made with a native Australian mint foraged from Dragoncello’s own gardens (they have three across the city). Something steamier can be found when you order up an apple and pine needle caipirinha. Dragoncello’s emphasis on seasonal, foraged food, you see, comes in drinkable form too, making this a seriously unmissable spot for Sydney’s connoisseurs of unusual drops.