The Rover, a reinvigorated dining and drinking destination has officially opened its doors in Surry Hills. A polished version of its former self, The Wild Rover, The Rover brings the bustling charm of a dapper New York cocktail bar to the reinvigorated inner-city precinct.
While respecting the rustic charm and good-time Irish heritage of the previous space, The Rover, owned by Liquid & Larder hospitality group who run sister venues Bistecca and The Gidley, ushers in a new life to the Campbell Street stalwart with an evolved personality and sparkling new interiors.
An expanded dining offering is led by Executive Chef Pip Pratt who has crafted a generous New England-inspired and seafood-driven menu boasting everything that’s great to share.
A focal point is a rotating supply of Australia’s best freshly-shucked Sydney Rock oysters – including Batemans Bay’s Clair de Lune by Moonlight Flat, a rare take on Coffin Bay Pacific oysters that have been creole-spiced, deep fried and returned to their original shell. Other highlights include ‘caviar and potato chips’, ‘raw scallop with horseradish cream, cucumber and dill oil’, and Pratt’s take on an English classic – an elevated fish finger sandwich, inspired by the Indian influences and spices of his childhood growing up in the United Kingdom.
Pratt explains, “Taking cues from the chic cocktail bars in New York City, we’ve crafted the new menu of indulgences to enjoy pre dinner or dishes that tempt you to settle in for the night, with or without a drop from the epic drinks list.”
The drinks menu features a refined selection of unique and quality drams, accompanied by a slimmed down beer offering with two ales – a golden and dark – on tap. Cocktails, expertly crafted by Liquid & Larder’s Group Bar Manager and previous Australian Bartender of the Year winner, Alex Gondzioulis, features interesting yet approachable tipples, alongside ‘Rover Favourites’ fresh and elevated twists on much-loved classics.
“Easy drinking whiskey highballs using sodas and ferments all made in-house are also a mainstay, and we’ve made sure of some tasty non-alcoholic options, such as the No-groni using Seedlip Grove & Spice,” says Gondzioulis.
The expanded wine list, curated by sommelier Kyle Poole who has previously worked in award-winning restaurants Woodcut and Rockpool Bar & Grill, names fifty punchy and dynamic drops from some of the best organic and biodynamic wineries.
Even before entering, guests can capture a peep into the bustling allure of The Rover with its new clear front windows that now welcome afternoon sun into a space once notably hidden from street view. The elevated interior has been upgraded to create a warm and inviting atmosphere, aligning it closer to the DNA of sister venues, Bistecca and The Gidley. The banquette seating has gained plush velvet upholstery and a warm amber glow radiates from the softened lantern style lighting.
James Bradey, co-owner of The Rover says, “We’re proud to be part of a new era for Surry Hills, and can’t wait to welcome back locals, both fresh faces and old fans. Whilst it was important for us to keep The Wild Rover’s iconic friendly character and all-are-welcome charm, we wanted to elevate the experience to provide an uplifted concept to the venue”.
In keeping with The Wild Rover’s jovial welcoming reputation, The Rover won’t be taking reservations upon opening and now has extended hours opening from 4pm Tuesday to Thursday and offering lunch from 12pm Friday & Saturday.
The Rover joins Liquid and Larder’s stellar line-up of iconic Sydney venues including; The Gidley, Bistecca and Grandma’s Bar. It also forms part of an ongoing rejuvenation of the bustling Surry Hills precinct, with several venues using the lockdown to breathe new life and evolve their offerings to adapt to the community’s renewed demand for dining and drinking experiences.
The Rover reopened on 25 March 2022.
Image credits: Dominic Loneragan