If you believe Matt Whiley, Re is “just a cocktail bar, like any cocktail bar”, but it’s one that all of Sydney is already talking about.
While this pioneering venue from Whiley (Scout) and Maurice Terzini (Icebergs Dining Room & Bar, CicciaBella) focusses on working with produce from a different and often unloved part of the food supply chain, the most talked about aspect of the bar so far is the upcycled elements used throughout.
From recycled plastic and wood shavings to create chairs, pineapple leaves as fabric for seat coverings, extruded milk bottle tops and Tupperware transformed into a bar and table tops or lamp shades that have been “grown”, everything is a talking point as soon as you walk through the door.
Located on the newly-opened Locomotive Street in South Eveleigh, Re is a regenerative drinking experience built in the shell of a former historic Locomotive Workshop building. “If you come inside the venue though, you probably won’t get a chance to get to talk about the produce we use. They’ll point and say ‘What’s that!’, and will be chatting for half an hour about the fitout before they realise it.”
Whiley’s pioneering ethos, first brought to life at Scout at Terzini’s Dolphin in Surry Hills, has brought a sharp focus to local ingredients and sustainability, leading the way with drinks that focus on innovation and taste while minimising waste.
“We are giving something a new life, a new purpose and focussing on the positive of what we are doing,” he says. While Re isn’t calling itself zero-waste, it sees itself as a model for the future of the industry while still being a fun, world-class experience.
“We want to show how you can have an impact, so that other venues can look at us, then do the same,” says Whiley. “Yes Re is built on waste, but it’s this really incredible, refined space with heritage character. We want to change people’s expectations of what low-waste means, and encourage others to build and operate this way.”
On the drinks front, natural wines will sit next to a classic Martini, given a gentle twist with white truffle and olive leaf. Meanwhile the Re Spritz uses elements of sustainability with plums and peaches otherwise destined for the compost.
The bar crew will also have creative license to work on sensory and mind-blowing “Re- search” drinks. The Mars, for example, reads simply as “Bulleit, Silicon, Magnesium, Iron”.
The food, overseen by Icebergs head chef Alex Pritchard, has a strong snack focus, with an eye on sustainable and reclaimed produce. While one of the biggest draws is possibly Egg & Chips – a decadent mix of ’nduja and salt-and-vinegar chips with a 63-degree egg – it is puffed beef tendons with togarashi, house pickles and eggplant ceviche using salvaged padron peppers which will get people talking about the food.
“Just because it’s made from offcuts or seconds doesn’t mean it needs to be virtuous,” says Whiley.