An arty Chippendale bar with exquisite wine and cheese
I have to admit never spending any time in Chippendale at all, even though I am born and bred in Sydney. But in the past couple of months I found myself in Chippendale, heading to Zigi's wine and cheese bar and having a wonderful time. A completely unassuming two storey corner building with a side alley entrance, Zigi's Wine and Cheese Bar is the brainchild of Zigi Ozeri himself. Chef, teacher, entrepreneur and self confessed foodie he has a passion, wisdom and understanding about wine and cheese which he loves to share with his staff and patrons.
Walking into this hidden gem on a Sunday night it would not be wrong to think you are in the wrong place. The decor is simple and arty with bar stools, mismatched lounges and dark walls. A grunge, garage atmosphere but very welcoming and warm. There is a small bar with one young bar girl and no other guests. A wine list and menu are brought over and soon, before you know it the menu is being explained, the wine is being chosen and your night begins. The wine list is extensive from Spanish to Italian to Australian. At $12 a glass or a very friendly $6 for a half glass or a generous $41 to $71 price range for a bottle of red or white or rose, they are a very accommodating crew who know their wine. Their philosophy is simple: If you order by the glass and they open a bottle of wine for you then that becomes the wine of the moment. I love that. Wine of the moment.
Zigi has also created an Australian Israeli menu cleverly nicknamed Ausraeli with some beautiful choices. Wild mushroom bourekas with tahini and pickled cucumber, fattoush salad with crisp vegetables, za'atar croutons and sumac, couscous salad with feta cheese, zucchini, capsicum, beetroot and a chilli vinaigrette were all my choices and I chose well. Although I believe it would be difficult to make a poor choice here. Each dish was perfectly orchestrated and perfectly vegetarian. But the ultimate inclusion on the Zigi's menu has to be the "Flights" list. Cheese platters with 2 or 4 or 6 cheeses with wines or beers completely priced at $32, $56, $72. They call it a tasting experience and it really is.
Cheese platter with magnificent tower of house made pumpkin and sea salt lavosh
One thing is for sure. They love cheese here at Zigi's. They really love cheese. That's their philosophy and they truly mean it. The menu not only tells you the name of the cheese and its origin but also the type of cheese ie. hard, soft, semi hard and also the animal it comes from with a picture i.e. a cow, goat, sheep. A wonderful selection on offer, making it very hard to choose so just leave it up to the professionals to decide for you. The platter comes complete with a majestic tower of house baked pumpkin and sea salt lavosh. You have to see this to believe it. It is a work of art. Some roasted spicy nuts, dried apricots and raisins are sprinkled on the platter for colour. The cheese is the true star of the show as each bite melts in your mouth and you just want more.
Zigi's not only serves up eclectic cuisine, delectable cheeses and moorish wine but they host art shows and Zigi has his own cooking school at the shop front where he teaches cooking classes. By the end of our night Zigi even joined us for a chat and some wine and cheese of course, sharing his knowledge and vision with us. Where else would the owner and head chef come and sit with his patrons? This is not just a wine and cheese bar but rather an artistic journey into the wonderful world of food and wine through the eyes of a passionate foodie.