Descend the winding staircase to the Lobo Plantation past a vertical garden and step back in time to old Cuba. Old-world glamour in an urban hideout, a cool Caribbean vibe and a touch of nostalgia and elegance feel at home in the heart of Sydney’s CBD.
The Lobo Plantation
The Lobo Plantation is named after Julio Lobo (1898-1983), a powerful Cuban sugar baron who built casinos, dated Hollywood stars and lived the high life before he fled from Cuba in the late 1930s to 1960 to go into exile.
The venue, opened just a week ago by Michael Hwang, Eddie Levy and Jared Merlino pays homage to his legendary life.
Designer Josh Clapp from Taught By Black has created a space that interprets Julio’s hideaway. A stunning domed ceiling, a large mural, red leather Chesterfield lounges, old reupholstered furniture and a herringbone timber floor add touches of authenticity to the new bar, right down to the unisex toilets with murals and hand-painted basins. All that is needed are patrons dressed in white suits to complete the picture.
Chesterfield Lounges for Groups
The Lobo Plantation specialises in rum and stocks over 150 select varieties from around the world. Among the collection, you’ll find Diplomatico Anejo, Cubaney Rum, El Dorado range, Pampero, Havana Club and Flor de Cana just to name a few.
Havana Club Daiquiris
An international wine list sits with ten champagnes glass including grandes marques such as Ruinart ‘R’ de Ruinart, Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque and Dom Perignon.
The Lobo Plantation has assembled a great international and local bar team with Andres Walters (ex Grandmas), Jason Gray (ex Whistling Shop, Baxter Inn) and Simon Toohey who create the relaxed and fun vibe around the bar.
The menu with a solid list of sixteen cocktails makes good reading while you snack on plantain chips.
L-R: Short and Stout, Southeast Side
The Southeast Side ($17) is a good choice with which to start, a twist on a classic with gin, lime and sugar with Thai basil that lifts the drink.
Strong and boozy, the Short and Stout ($17) is the go-to drink. You get the richness and sweetness of Ron Zacapa 23, followed by the bitterness from the Campari and ends with a wicked chocolate hit from the chocolate porter reduction.
L-R: The Communist Sour, Plan-Ting
The Communist Sour ($17) combines Havana Especial, Aperol, orgeat syrup and lemon juice into a sour that is refreshing and easy to drink. Plan-Ting ($17) combines Plantation OP rum from Barbados with Jamaica’s favourite soft drink, Ting (like a lemonade but made with grapefruit) into a sweet, delicious and easy-drinking cocktail.
Bar eats are a collaboration with Food Society in Darlinghurst what have put together a food menu which carries the Caribbean and South American theme.
Start with Pork Crackling ($7), stripped of fat and served warm with a black pepper infused vinegar dipping sauce. Crisp, seasoned and stripped of fat, this is guilt-free snacking at its best.
Baked Cheese Balls
The Baked Cheese Balls with guava sauce ($4.50) are light and crisp, melting in the mouth and served with a sour tomato jam on 5 pesos paper money.
Cuban Pastelitos with beef, raisin and guava ($8.50) are among the favourite. Light and puffy pockets of crispy deep fried pastry are filled with a sweet and fulfilling mix of beef, raisins and guava paste. Add a dash of the house-made hot sauce which comes in miniature bottles of Ron Zacapa and 10Cane rum for a touch of heat. The pastelitos are served on $1000 Cuban paper money.
Tamales en Cazuela
The other go-to dish is Tamales en Cazuela ($11), with corn husks filled with creamy polenta, smashed corn and pulled pork served with black beans and a fresh chopped salsa – preferably not to be shared with your other half.
Ropa Vieja ($13) melts in the mouth with shredded flank steak that has been slow-braised over two nights in dark beer and brown sugar. The crispy chick peas add lovely crunch and texture to the richness of the dish.
Pudin de Pan
To finish, the Pudin de Pan ($11) is not to be missed. You can smell the rum in this Creole-style warm bread pudding with a butterscotch sauce laced with Kraken rum which brings out the vanilla and spice characters. This is a feel-good dessert, guaranteed to make you smile on the inside.
More photographs of the Lobo Plantation:
Interior of The Lobo Plantation
L-R: Jay Gray, Simon Toohey, Jared Merlino (GM & Part Owner), Andres Walters, Dylan Minehan
From the stunning fitout to a great cocktail list, along with a welcoming and engaging bar team, delicious bar eats that don’t break the budget, Sydney’s latest addition to the bar scene leaves a lasting first impression. And if the ebb and flow of patrons on a weeknight during the first week of trading is any indication, The Lobo Plantation has firmly set its place as Sydney’s latest hotspot and go-to drinking destination.
The Lobo Plantation
Basement, 209 Clarence Street, Sydney