Sydney's Best Small Bars


Bench Wine Bar
503-511 King Street, Newtown

Bench Wine Bar, Newtown

Many of the bars in Newton have embraced the look and feel of the area, using long narrow spaces filled with art and decorated in a away that feels like Newtown. Bench Wine Bar has gone the other way and taken a heavy modern hand to create a space that is stark. Concrete floors and polished metal benches dominate the space while glowing industrial light bulbs hang from the ceiling: when only a handful of people are in the venue, this can all combine to create a desolate ambience.

One specialty of the house is it’s cocktail list but these are presented in a confusing manner. Under the headline Mojito which lists Bacardi rum, sugar, soda, mint and lime as the ingredients ($15), there are options for Caprioskas (vodka, lime, sugar) and Caipirinhas (cachaça, lime, sugar), neither of which are mojito’s or have their ingredients listed on the menu. You’d be forgiven for thinking they were all made the same way. A similar thing happens with the martinis. Sugar also tends to dominate: the classically tart margarita is turned sweet with sugar syrup ($15) and a similar fate awaits the Moscow mule (although the fresh ginger is a nice touch, $15).

Surprising for a wine bar, there is not an elaborate list of wines by the glass: just one sparkling (a lovely Veuve d’Argent, $12.50), seven whites and a similar number of reds. It’s a good selection but a few more choices of each would have rounded it out more, especially since it is billed as a wine bar.

In brief: Bench Wine Bar
Best things: Rarely crowded
Ideal for: Small groups, catch-ups with friends
Date tip: Inside is too exposed so the best bet is the outdoor seating.
Gripes: Cocktail menu is presented in a confusing way. Even if the staff are friends with the employees of nearby places, it’s not a good seeing your waitress leave the bar, and start flirting with the staff at the venue across the road while you are ready for her to take your order.
Rating: 5/10

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Last updated: August 2017
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