What do you get when you combine hip-hop music with cheese, cocktails and an Italian restaurant in a venue that’s open till 3am?
Big Poppa’s Darlinghurst
Occupying the former site of Hello Sailor and previously Kaya and Rambutan, the venue is split over two levels with two distinct but very connected spaces. Both food and drinks menus are available on both levels with the difference being upstairs is table service while downstairs food and drink are ordered at the bar.
Upstairs @ Big Poppa’s
Big Poppa’s Restaurant
Accessed from Oxford Street, upstairs is an Italian restaurant with a bar offering a range of tempting shared dishes and food-friendly Aperitivo/Digestivo drinks.
Big Poppa’s Restaurant
The space is beautifully fitted out with midnight blue leather banquettes, marble top tables with flickering candles, tall stools around tall communal table and bi-fold windows which open out to Oxford Street.
Big Poppa’s Restaurant
Near the bar with its six seater bar area, there’s a metre tall cheese fridge with approximately 15 cheeses on rotation.
Downstairs @ Big Poppa’s
Big Poppa’s Downstairs Bar
Downstairs is the cocktail lounge with another bar and an impressive mosaic of Biggie Smalls on the floor (see first photo) set to become synonymous with the venue.
Big Poppa’s Downstairs Lounge
There’s plenty of seating along the semi-circular lounges with round tables and the diner style booths that face the bar. The decor is warm and minimal punctuated by framed art images overlaid with song lyrics. This is a place where you relax in comfort and enjoy a few drinks.
Big Poppa’s Downstairs Booths
Aside from the different aesthetics of both levels, Big Poppa’s is one venue with an advantage. Everything on the menu can be ordered whether you’re upstairs or downstairs. And yes, hip hop music rules no matter which level you’re in.
The Downstairs cocktail list is a fun take on classics, and with names like Purple Drank you can’t help but immediately order one.
Purple Drank ($19) is a shaken drink made with the excellent Four Pillars Shiraz Gin, Amaro Angostura, lemon, topped with West Coast Cooler and garnished with an upturned cocktail umbrella and red vines liquorice twist. Fun, whimsical and utterly delicious, the Shiraz gin works very well with the West Coast Cooler and makes one very sessionable drink.
Alternatively, you may opt for Bacchus ($18) from the Aperitivo/Digestivo list, with Cocchi Torino, Tio Pepe, Pedro Ximenez and orange. This super tasty take on the Adonis cocktail makes for elegant and sophisticated sipping and a great choice for an aperitivo.
If you’re after a drink to warm you up, the Winter Solstice ($18) combines aged rum with spiced apple and bitters garnished with a dehydrated apple slice. Spicy and sweet, it hits the right notes in the cooler months.
For a post dinner cocktail, you could go for a drink and dessert in one. The green-hued Sauterelle ($18) is a take on the Grasshopper cocktail with Cognac, Creme de Menthe, Creme de Cacao, vanilla ice cream, topped with a sprinkling of salt and garnished with mint and a biscuit. Who can resist.
Alternatively, if you prefer something on the bitter side, the Peloni ($18) is a perfectly balanced mix of rye whiskey, Braulio and sugar syrup. The drink is amaro forward while the rye is not too far behind. This is one of the favourite cocktails enjoyed on the night and makes an ideal after dinner digestivo.
When it comes to the Italian-inspired food menu by Chef Liam Driscoll, you’ll be spoilt for choice. The dishes can be shared and we envisage that the Cured Meats ($26) option will be a popular choice to share at any time of the night.
Not all the menu is cheese-driven. The Vongole ($19) with guanciale, white wine, fregola and nduja packs a lot of flavour and a good measure of heat from the spicy nduja. Once you’ve worked your way through the bivalves, you’re left with bread on the side just waiting to be dunked in the fragrant broth.
Hand Cut Pappardelle
The Hand Cut Pappardelle ($26) with lamb shoulder ragu and Parmigiano-Reggiano is not to be missed. The combination of silky ribbons of pasta and a flavoursome lamb ragu makes it the go-to dish. It’s rich but not too heavy, satisfying and simply makes you feel good on the inside.
The Roman Gnocchi ($32) is served traditional style. One large gnocco made of polenta with melt-in-the-mouth braised beef cheeks make for a winter match made in heaven. It comes with Sicilian olives, gremolata, and is topped with Pecorino Sardo, a hard cheese from Sicily. The beef cheeks come easily apart with the fork and this makes for one hearty and satisfying dish.
Warm Chocolate Budino
For dessert, the Warm Chocolate Budino ($15) hits the right spot. With a texture in between a cake and a pudding, it’s a decadent dessert with vanilla gelato, crushed almonds, tangelo segments which cut through the richness of the chocolate and blood orange olive oil.
Big Poppa’s is open every day from 5pm till 3am with no lockouts. With the kitchen open until close, you can order from the full menu whether you’re after cured meats, a selection of cheeses or a hearty meal with a glass of wine. With its quality offerings and welcoming vibe, not only is Big Poppa’s a great addition to the Sydney dining and bar scene, it’s a welcome change from the late night fast food offerings. And it comes with a genuine smile, good times and a side of hip hop.
96 Oxford St, Darlinghurst
Hours: Monday to Sunday 5pm-3am (no lockouts)
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