It may be more restaurant than bar, but Cheek by Jowl combines excellent cutting-edge modern fusion Australian grub with a tightly curated wine and cocktail menu for an elevated dining experience.
Part of the Unlisted Collection hospitality and dining group, Cheek by Jowl fronts talented Sri Lanka-born but Australian-trained chef-owner Rishi Naleendra who puts out an impressive menu of contemporary Australian dishes with some familiar Asian ingredients to pay tribute to his roots and the region’s influence.
You’ll find, for example, the use of Korean kimchi in tandem with kohlrabi in the likes of his Raw Beef Salad ($22++), Japanese bonito to flavour a most unctuous butter as a sauce for the leeks in his Barramundi ($32++, below), and even laksa leaf to make an ice cream in his dessert of Coconut ($15++) which also sees the incorporation of some green chilli for an additional spicy punch.
But for tipplers one of the best reasons to visit Cheek by Jowl is for its wine menu. Manuela Toniolo – who holds a double portfolio of being both general manager as well as Chef Rishi’s wife – puts together an expertly curated wine list with a strong organic and biodynamic slant. You’ll find wines the likes of BK Wines Gower Pinot Noir 2015 ($22++ for a glass/$105++ for a bottle), Ministry of Clouds Riesling 2016 ($20/$92++), or the Ochota Barrels Shellac Syrah 2013 ($165++ per bottle), all of which are from Basket Range, a burgeoning community in the field of organic wine set in Adelaide Hills, South Australia.
There are similarly eco-friendly wines from other parts of the world as well; the Vincent Gaudry le Tournebride Sancerre 2014 ($118++), hails from one of the trailblazers of biodynamic winemaking in France’s Loire Valley, while organic winemaking has been the hallmark of Piedmont, Italy-based Adriano Marco e Vittorio with the Basarin Barbaressco 2011 ($135++).
If you’re not an oenophile your options are somewhat more limited, considering there isn’t a real bar setup due to space constraints of within the restaurant. But Cheek by Jowl does offer three pre-mixed cocktails created in collaboration with the folks from Proof & Company that cleverly leverages various indigenous Australian ingredients; the Blood and Bone ($18++) uses eucalyptus tea for a refreshing minty lift for the gin and ginger concoction, macadamia nut milk and ground macadamia gives texture and nuttiness to the rum-based Macadamia Mai Tai ($18++, main picture), while wattleseed adds spiciness and bite to the bittersweet Wattleseed Negroni ($19++, above).
You can find Cheek by Jowl at 21 Boon Tat Street.