Eau De Vie is the place where Sydney-siders in the know go for a carefully crafted cocktail. A special bottle of champagne opened by sabre before your eyes. It's where bartenders become scientists and performers each night for a thirsty crowd. It's all about the drinks, not so much the food. It's the perfect place to start or finish your night. So, what do you do in between?
Owner Sven Almenning has teamed up with Graham Ette of Etiquette Catering to present The Roosevelt. You’ll find it in Potts Point, a suburb most know for expensive properties, hot new restaurants, bars and home to Sydney’s ‘in crowd’. Few would believe it was once a hub for shady exploits and Sydney’s notorious underworld characters of the 1940s.
In recent years the art deco style building was a French restaurant called Après. Very civilized considering it first opened as The Roosevelt Club and was owned by Sydney gangland figure Abe Saffron. Also known as “the boss of the Cross” and “a Mr Big of Australian crime” Saffron was a heavy weight crook in the Kings Cross red-light district. He was in the business of black-market alcohol and made a lucrative trade at The Roosevelt.
The bar seems fairly legit these days but it still carries the old world charm of the 40s. Enter the main bar and you’ll find small antique tables scattered to the left, a drinks cart in the middle and a shiny new bar to the right. It’s all about table service at The Roosevelt, so sit back and wait to be served. It’s a shame there are no seats at the bar, often the best part of a night is watching the experts at work.
When our Secret Foodies guests arrive anticipation mounts as they sip their cocktails. Questions start flying. Where are we eating? Where are the tables? A few guests have already had a drink in the new bar but no one has seen the restaurant.
It’s time for dinner. A door opens next to the bar and guests enter the dining room. There’s room for up to 36 people over two long communal tables. The first course is sitting in crystal bowls set in the long ice filled grooves of the polished black marble tables. A salad of shaved fennel, carrot, celery, citrus wedges and tomato cloud sounds fairly straightforward. Look a little closer, nothing is, as it seems at The Roosevelt, expect the unexpected.
Each of the five courses has been thoughtfully matched with a unique cocktail. The salad is paired with a refreshing watermelon and tomato nitro punch with chili, Ketel One Citroen, St Germaine and lemon juice.
Dinner at The Roosevelt is an interactive experience. Yes they have amazing cocktails and intriguing food. It’s the two combined that makes this place unique.
Since the rise of Heston Blumenthal a lot of restaurants have tried their hand at molecular gastronomy. Some have succeeded and others should have stuck to the KISS approach. There is nothing simple at The Roosevelt but by no means is this experience stupid.
The current degustation menu is all about summer with dishes such as the Bondi Beach combining calamari with apple, ginger, nashi and pineapple paired with champagne cocktail. The Tropical North starts boiling in the kitchen and continues to your table with scampi cooked in a kaffir broth with seaweed, served in a young coconut.
You won’t find wine on this menu it’s all about cocktails. But surely the wagyu beef with banana leaf bundel, desiree potato and natural jue would taste great with a bold red wine? Not in this restaurant. Here you’ll try the Roosevelt Red made of house sweet vermouth, Johnnie Walker Gold Label and pine smoke. It will challenge your taste buds.
Graham and the team have a knack for taking classic dishes and turning them upside down. The Roosevelt’s version of pavlova is far from traditional but it’s the matching pavlova shake that will be most memorable. With Ron Zacapa, palm nectar, banana liqueur, cream and scorched meringue it is the ultimate drinkable dessert. If only it was as easy to recreate at your next bbq.
The Roosevelt is like your favourite art gallery. You go there to see new exhibitions every few months. The menu changes with the seasons and like a particular artist you may like that season’s menu so much you go back again and again while it lasts. Generally though it’s not the type of place you’d go once a week. It’s perfect for birthdays, corporate functions and celebrations. I imagine before long the private dining room will be booked with groups every Saturday night for the next six months. I suggest you get in early.