Do you ever judge by association? I’m guilty, do-it-all-the-time. Old habits, don’t die.
Newtown – hippies (not in a bad way) and crap Vietnamese food.
Cabramatta – little Vietnam and cracker Vietnamese food.
Surry Hills – cafe central and hipsters galore.
Darling Harbour – tourists, families and fireworks.
Cockle Bay – *doof doof*, closely followed by that pocket-draining-poor-excuse for a hot dog at Cargo, that I wish I’d never encountered.
So when Helm Bar landed in my lap for a dinner date, I was, ummm, a little un-excited. Located ‘technically’ in Darling Harbour – but in my eyes – close enough to the Cockle Bay side. There were visions of night-goers half my age, that make me feel too old for my boots, whilst the sounds of *doof doof* tunes blare in the background, as I try and munch my food n’ sip my cocktail.
Boy, was I wrong. Once I stepped foot onto the upper deck of Helm Bar it was like I’d been handed a little bubble of calmness.
TAKE THE STAIRS TO Escape the hipsters to the right and the snap-happy tourists to the left
It’s not filled with the corporate types for that ‘after-work-drink’ but a real mixed casual crowd. Helm Bar is for those wanting to have a cold drink with some good hearty food, whilst watching the sun go down over the harbour – a pretty simple request hey?! This is all I wanted and it did deliver. Two-fold.
The drinks – The sexy saint cocktail blew my mind (if only Val Kilmer came with it). Matt tells me, the secret is in the starter syrup of; St Germain elderflower liquor, chilli, honey and a squeeze of lemon. At first sip, you get the heat from the chilli, but it mellows out as you swallow and the sweetness of the honey comes through – with no nasty post cocktail aftertaste (another pet hate). It’s a total. bloody. winner. This is what I’ll be back for.
The food – tasty, generous and there’s even a few deserts on the menu. The perfectly cooked n’ tender steak did give my favourite ‘Carlisle Castle’ steak a run for it’s money – simply by the sauce (I feel like I’m channeling Manu here). I wanted more of that green peppercorn sauce! The paella hit the spot, with lashings of fresh seafood, big-fat-mussels and the moist rice went down all-too-well. Along with a few obligatory fries dipped in aioli. Hey, fries are something you have to get, no matter what suburb you’re in - it’s a must!
So I put both hands up and gladly admit – YES, I was judgemental. And I shouldn’t be. Helm Bar, I’ll be back. For that memorable cocktail and a cheeky steak.
I love to start a meal with a good-cold-cocktail, don't you?
This one's a Thai Berry cocktail and considering it's been rain, rain, rain - I wanna have a bit of summer-in-one-sip
A good muddle, really gets those flavours going
Shaved ice?! Yep, this one's gonna be a goodie
Yummm, it's cold and goes down pretty easy
Of course, I can't stop at one - besides, I hear the cocktail menus inspired by quite a few Bali trips
This is the 'secret' syrup starter that totally makes this cocktail marvellous
While Matt shakes things up, I'm slightly nervous - chilli n' cocktail, not exactly a combo I was thrilled about
Here it comes...
This beauty is enough to make me want to have about three in a row - total chilli cocktail convert
And, secretly come nab a table and watch the sun go down
Cruisy-casual, really refreshing in this part of town
I did sample a few things off the menu, this paella was large and definitely let the seafood shine
This baby made me weak at the knees
Perfectly cooked and utterly tender, and that sauce was doubled as an added dipping sauce for...
...these yummy fries. The aoili was tops too.
This steaks not for sharing. I hear the there's $10 steak nights on Tuesdays - ummm sauce you-and-I are gonna meet again soon
Can't leave without a little decadent chocolate cake
Cherry and chocolate totally speaking my food-guage
Who gets the last bit, me of course!
THE DEETS YOU WANT TO KNOW
Aquarium Wharf Wheat Road,
Darling Harbour NSW 2000
P (02) 9290 1571
Thai Berry Cocktail $16
The Sexy Saint cocktail $17
Seafood Paella with Chorizo Sausage, Mussels, Calamari and Prawns $25
300g Black Angus Scotch Fillet Chargrilled with Fries & Green Peppercorn Sauce $26
Decadence Chocolate Cake with Fresh Berry Coulis $8
THE GOOK dined as a guest of Helm Bar.