A new bar at Sofitel

Lumière on Thirty Five and the view of the skyline. Lumière on Thirty Five Instagram

As a restaurateur, I rarely actually go out any more. Those couple of nights when I’m not working will more likely find me on the couch than on a bar stool these days.

But on occasion, opportunities appear that should be taken and so it was when I got the chance to visit the latest bar Lumière on Thirty Five at Sofitel Darling Harbour*. I will admit that 5 star hotel bars are not my normal scene, but I had previously heard good things about the Sofitel Champagne Bar so decided to kill two birds with one stone and visit both.

Sydney does have a few top-floor venues and they all offer spectacular views but for now I suspect Lumière might be a little bit of a secret.

The Champagne Bar was the obvious starting point, offering 13 prestige champagnes by the glass on my visit, changing throughout the year, and a solid list by the bottle. Starting with Ruinart Blanc de Blancs is never a bad thing and this bottle was in fine form. Following that with a run through of the Charles Heidsieck NV Blanc de Blancs and Rosé. A cheeky Jacquart Mosaïque Brut Signature 5 Years Aged had a lovely richness to it—still NV, but they emphasise the five years on lees.

Every bottle was poured tableside and at various fill levels and I was very pleased that every bottle was as fresh as it should be. Sparkling wine is far more complex than still for preservation, fighting on two fronts of oxidation and lack of spritz. At the Champagne Bar they use the Le Verre de Vin which I had not come across but my experience suggests it works. Obviously the focus on champagne ensures demand keeps bottles turning over. Pricing is very competitive as well. There’s not many places you can get a glass of Charles at AUD $35. I couldn’t do it at Fix.

But then it was time to leave. I hadn’t made it through the list, but that’s always a good excuse to return.

The top floor of the building had previously only been used as Club Millésime, for club floor guest access only. A lovely experience I will admit but only open until 7.30pm: much of that spectacular city skyline night-time view was passing by unseen and un-appreciated. Lumière doesn’t open until 8.30pm. The space is transformed to a softly lit, comfortable space with a wide range of complex cocktails but also five different Billecart-Salmon NV cuvées by the glass and a wide array of fine wines. Extensive use of the Coravin on both still and sparkling wine ensures wines are poured as they should be.

We had a small sampling of the menu on offer. Dishes are made as canapés, offering an equal mix of sweet and savoury, so it works well as a venue to visit after a meal out.

Sydney does have a few top-floor venues and they all offer spectacular views but for now I suspect Lumière might be a little bit of a secret, a great place to take your better half for a special moment, or to show off to out-of-towners.

*Disclosure: my wife works at Sofitel Darling Harbour, not in food & beverage but as director of revenue.

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