In Food + Drink

The Buzzy Wine Bar And Restaurant Housed In Sydney’s Oldest Bank

Sydney’s waited long enough. Waited between lethargy and limbo for some kind of rebirth of our once lively city. There’s some way to go yet but in the interim one progressive hospitality veteran put a few play areas into one good-looking, grown-up venue.

Paul Schulte (ex Keystone Group) is the creative director of Prince Of York and pays homage to the 150-year-old bones of what was once the site of Sydney’s oldest cash reserve.

Now wine bar, restaurant, and underground disco; Prince Of York entices with the bygone act of dinner and dancing, offering Sydneysiders some long-awaited fun and intrigue. “There’s heritage here, mixed with edge, which makes it a unique venue,” says Schulte.

prince of york

The multilevel wine bar and restaurant is smartly fitted; urban and pared-down with the furniture designed and made by Schulte’s own design company Line. “There’s a lot of cut and paste in the market so we designed everything ourselves to be different”.

Street-level is all glass and light with dining and bar tables surrounding the central concrete bar, which like the exposed brick walls, is lit for effect. Downstairs gets dark and moody; there’s more space for dining, another bar, and the vault that once held mystery now holding treasured grapes, “the vault is something different, having a space that you can actually take people in to taste wines, it gives people a story to talk about”.

There’s another story here, one that places Schulte as the figurative ‘Pied Piper’ of the industry as he draws a stellar brigade. There’s Andy Emerson and Ed Loveday (both ex-ACME and Bar Brose) with Emerson – also Schulte’s business partner – running back of house operations and Loveday focusing on entertainment and beverages, working closely with Reece Griffin (ex Chula) on cocktails and wine.

Executive chef Sam Bull and his sous chef Adrian Jankuloski (both ex Icebergs and North Bondi Italian) have worked alongside one another for years while Ed Verrill (all the way from London) works the venue and Katherine Jankuloski (ex Icebergs) as Events Manager.

The diverse mix is a strategic move by Schulte allowing for more flexibility than the big hospitality groups. “I saw an opportunity to get a bunch of young, creative types together and to be more versatile at how we work,” he says.

The food is varied with a subtle retro feel as you take note of certain dishes; venison tartare, zucchini flower fondue, spaghetti crab in a bag and chocolate mousse stuffed bounty bar. This is the dining equivalent to subliminal messaging; designed to taste better than you remembered while enticing a sense of nostalgia.

The Greek-style octopus earns bragging rights and can transport you back to the Cyclades if your first encounter with an Octopoda is one of soft, creaminess.

Spaghetti crab in a bag is a ceremonious and aromatic to eat pasta and not the only dish going back in the bag according to Schulte, “it’s such a good way of cooking and on the back of the popularity of the dish we do seafood bonanza bags for groups and seafood paella in a bag for events”.

The Iraqi chicken hits with salt and char, harmonising with fluffy garlic sauce and sharp pickles. There’s been lightness breathed into the minute steak; more a warm salad with rocket and a light layering of green peppercorn sauce, makes it an ideal lunch contender to avoid food-induced drowsiness.

prince of york

Loveday makes wine fun and accessible. A Choose Your Own Adventure wine list; designed from light to heavy, serious and substantial yet categorized with whimsical names such as “Long Lunch Faves” and “Baller Reds”. There’s a big natural selection too as we move towards wines with minimal intervention and lightening bolts to mark “these are a little crazy” wines out for those who are looking for something out of the ordinary.

Pamela’s is an easy transition; you’re already there and not quite ready to call it a night. Descending downstairs to a lair of pink suede couches, a lit podium and spinning disco ball, you journey back to Sydney’s heyday when dancing on tables and staying out late was allowed (which you can do both very soon as Prince Of York awaits their 2am license on the back of the lockout law repeal).

“It’s been tough with the lockouts and hard to get excited when dealing with legalities, but when you start doing it for the people who are desperately looking for this, it’s an easy decision to make”, is Schulte’s way of explaining why he didn’t give up on Sydney’s nightlife and with the best of Black Box tracks, terrazzo tables to dance upon and tap margaritas for those time-poor revelers (all made in-house of course), we’re grateful he didn’t.

(All images: Peter Sedlacik & Ed Loveday / Prince Of York)

Published 21 January, 2020