Double Bay’s Dining Scene Is Back, But What Sent It Downhill in the First Place?

Double Bay restaurants Bartiga

Double Bay’s dining scene is back. In the last few years, the Sydney suburb has welcomed Neil Perry venues Margaret, Next Door and soon-to-open Song Bird and Bobbie’s, Japanese eatery Tanuki and Modern Australian-South Asian fusion spot Bartiga.

“Double Bay took a hit when [popular venues in the area] Pelicano, Mrs Sippy and Casablanca closed [in 2019, 2020 and 2017, respectively], as they were the core business in the suburb,” says Charlie Kelly, who co-owns Bartiga with its head chef Faheem Noor.

“There was also a lull before this with the redevelopment of the building Margaret is now. That saw Double Bay in a quiet period,” says Kelly.

Adam Abrams, who co-owns Tanuki and nearby Matteo with Eddie Levy, also says the closures of Double Bay’s three popular venues played a big role in the area’s overall feel. Though, Abrams calls the period after the closures one of transition, not necessarily a decline.

Image: Tanuki

“Undoubtedly, the challenges of COVID impacted the hospitality industry as a whole,” he says. “However, amidst this, we’ve witnessed a revitalisation with the arrival of top-tier operators, such as Neil Perry who brought Margaret to the neighbourhood.”

Abrams says he and Levy acquired the former Mrs Sippy site for Tanuki around the same time Perry took over the former Pelicano building for Margaret. Having grown up in the area and spent the last six years operating Matteo, Abrams and Levy jumped at the opportunity to buy the Mrs Sippy site.

“To us, Double is the vibrant heart of the Eastern Suburbs,” Levy says. “It’s a cosmopolitan village that offers a beautiful harbour and high-end shops set against tree-lined streets. It’s hard to find anything like this inside of Sydney if not Australia.”

Despite Double Bay’s evolution, Abrams says it preserves its charm, with long-time venues like 21 Espresso on Knox Street and Indigo Café. The area’s clientele is diverse, including families enjoying early dinners, young professionals having after-work drinks and visitors frequenting restaurants for lunch and dinner on the weekends. This, Levy says, adds to the tapestry of Double Bay’s dining experience.

Double Bay restaurants Bartiga
Image: Bartiga

Kelly’s Bartiga occupies the building his family has owned for 42 years, with the space formerly used as Café Perons. Kelly says with Bartiga, he re-imagined the space to keep it in line with the Double Bay’s upmarket dining scene.

Now, Bartiga sits alongside other high-quality operators on Bay Street, many of them the works of Sydney-based contracting company Fortis Group. Kelly predicts the street and its surroundings will explode in popularity soon.

“Double Bay’s dining scene is on the up, and in the next two years, Bay Street [where Bartiga is located] is poised to become one of Australia’s best eat streets,” te says.

“It will be on par with James Street in Brisbane and could be the Australian Rodeo Drive,” he says. “It has always been an exciting suburb, but we have seen nothing yet for what’s to come.”

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