The fittingly-named ‘Reign’ bar in Sydney’s historic Queen Victoria Building is a sophisticated new watering hole, operated by the Trippas White Group.
We walk along the ornately-tiled corridors of the QVB and pass a gentleman in a suit playing a black grand piano – a dash of sophistication within this royally-named Sydney landmark.
At Reign, we take our seat in a prime position by the grand arched windows overlooking George and Druitt streets. Not only can I see the sandstone steps and clock tower of the historic Sydney Town Hall building; but the bronze statue of Queen Victoria herself sits beneath us, making us indeed feel like royalty watching the tourists below and bustling after-work crowd scatter like ants among the streets. My tip – reserve a table by the windows if you can.
Interestingly, the Queen Victoria statue was created in 1908 in Dublin and was transported to Sydney in 1986 for the grand re-opening of the Queen Victoria Building.
The interiors are light, bright and feminine. I’m seated on a low dusky pink fabric chair with chrome legs in front of a marble-top table. Around us, seated on a mix of chairs, bar stools, high top tables and tan poufs are groups of friends, couples and after-work colleagues of various ages, taking advantage of ‘The Royal Hour’ from 5-7pm (see details below). Staff are busy at the long counter shaking rose-gold cocktail shakers – perhaps making for guests one of their renowned concoctions which includes The Hummingbird and the di Nonancout among the favourites.
Our sommelier Kyle talks us through the drinks list. With more than 150 champagnes and sparkling wines on the menu, bubbles are definitely the order of the day as far as I’m concerned. Sparkling wines come from not only the top producers in France’s Champagne region, but also rare boutique drops from craft producers. You can taste drinks by the glass or sample a Champagne Flight.
We opt for the Producer Spotlight Tasting Flight which changes regularly. During my visit, I’m fortunate that the spotlight is focussed on Tasmania’s outstanding House of Arras, overseen by Australia’s most decorated and highly-respected sparkling winemaker, Ed Carr.
The flight includes four 75ml tastings of the core sparkling wines from the House of Arras which showcase the finesse and skill of Carr and his team.
We chat through the menu options with Kyle who soon returns with our tasting sheet placemats and here’s where the fun begins. One by one, Kyle slowly pours each wine for us. “May I?” he asks, gesturing to the tan leather pouf.
He momentarily sits with us to explain and talk through the nuances of each wine, including his recommendations for the food pairings and in which order we should taste them. He seems to genuinely love the engagement with his patrons and the more questions we ask, the more his love and passion of wine and terroir shines through.
The nibbles menu has a fairly extensive selection – including oysters, smoked salmon, kingfish and beef cheek. We opt for the beef sliders on fluffy, pillowy rolls with a spicy sauce; goat cheese tortellini, watercress pesto, black olives, cherry tomatoes; and duck liver mousse served with house-made chive crumpets (we were presented with more crumpets to finish off our paté).
We leisurely make our way through the Arras wines, drinking in the order we have been guided to by Kyle. Funky, up-tempo music plays in the background. Below us, the busyness on the streets has not subsided, but we feel so far removed here, taking the time to enjoy the premium food, drinks and service.
For dessert, we finish with donuts, honey, yoghurt, cinnamon, star anise and pistachio; and coffee served elegantly with sugar cubes gold teaspoons – a little touch of the royal-life.
Reign is not quite nightclub, not quite bar and not quite café – but quite possibly a merging of the best elements of all three. Queen Vic would surely give her royal seal of approval.
Find out more: reignatqvb.com.au
Level One, Queen Victoria Building
455 George Street, Sydney (Druitt Street entrance)
Open Monday – Friday: 11am till late. Saturday – Sunday: 10am till late.
Reserve a table: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Royal Hour (When it Pours, It Reigns)
Sun – Wednesday from 5-7pm
$8 Beers; $8 House Spirits; $12 Wines; $15 Cocktails
Thursday – Saturday from 10-12am
Special prices on wines, beers, spirits and cocktails
T&C’s apply. Selected beers, spirits, wines and cocktails only