Set back from the bustling vantage of Darling Harbour, a bridge stroll from Sydney’s CBD, you will find the charming wine bar Mister Percy situated inside the entrance of Ovolo hotel. A wholly vegetarian, produce-led neighbourhood nook, identifiable only by a lone lamp lit bronze plaque donning its label.
“Housed in a former heritage wool store, Mister Percy stands as an ode to the wool-classer who etched his name into one of the building's historic sandstone bricks; a gentleman who was not averse to a glass (or few) of wine.
“The contemporary accents achieve an intimate, sultry lounge-style aesthetic within a cavernous antique space dotted with original wool store fittings of exposed wooden beams and metal bearings. Vintage décor and modern materials meld together to create a warm candle-lit space for you to settle into your seat, vino in hand.”
Stepping into the New York-style wine bar (where fur friends are welcome) we were greeted warmly by venue manager Antonio Di Munno (ex-Jet Bar Caffe, Parlour Lane Roasters Café and Wine Bar, and La Locanda) and Head Chef, Courtney Blyde (ex-Mary’s Pizzeria, The Apollo and Cho Cho San). It was an evening of natural, relaxed conversation with Antonio at our warm-lit table where we drank good wine, ate delectable vegetarian dishes, and covered all sorts of topics; from Europe travel stories, unique wine regions, and how to correctly bake pizza in a wood-fire oven.
Head Chef Courtney Blyde (left), Venue Manager Antonio Di Munno (right).
Courtney’s new menu has been guided by Ovolo’s commitment to going vegetarian for 365 days with all restaurants and bars across Australia and Hong Kong. Known as ‘Year of the Veg’, Mister Percy’s food will celebrate fresh and locally sourced produce, ethical eating and conscious cuisine.
My guest, Livi, noted how a lot of restaurants treat their customers like another number; as soon as visitors leave, the table’s cleared and as a result they don’t feel like the restaurant is taking its time to make them really feel appreciated. Mister Percy’s was different; we felt like valued diners with Antonio’s warmth, attentiveness and bountiful array of insights in the industry, society, culture and all things vego.
Antonio took care of us and brought out an ensemble of attractive starters: smashed edamame, umeboshi sesame seeds with fried nori; the orange roasted carrot paired with bay leaf, cloves and yoghurt; and the deep fried gnocchi generously coated in truffle butter. The edamame plate was full of colour and flaunted a light body with strong flavours. The fried nori was the highlight; well-seasoned and the perfect crunch.
The orange roasted carrot was Livi’s personal favourite, as she fell in love with its citrus-infused zest, whereas my preference leaned deeply towards the truffle butter gnocchi – a dish boasting crispy and moist textures with the hero ingredient of truffle butter playing its role beautifully in the dish’s extravagant performance.
“The chef has put together a small menu to complement the idea of vegetarianism, and we’re adding new offerings to the menu as we go. The gnocchi is very popular, so it’ll be staying on the menu. The gnocchi is made fresh in-house, and I’d say we go through about 25 kilos of the pasta every week!” Antonio revealed during our dinner chat.
He paired the starters with a table wine (Hauner, Salina Bianco) a gorgeous, non-acidic white featuring a “brilliant straw yellow” colour “with flashes of deep gold” and aromas of “strawberries, sage, and exotic fruit and citrus”.
Antonio expressed: “For me, food and wine pairing is very simple; if I know I’m going to eat meat I’ll drink red, if I eat fish I’ll drink white. If you have a preference (like for instance, I enjoy red wine) you can have it with anything. But here, we want to do it properly. Me, being Italian, I feel if you don't put your heart and soul into it, it isn’t going to work. If you’re giving a glass of wine, you make sure that it’s good. Pairing wine is like a marriage, a relationship. You marry the plates. You have to appreciate what you eat at the end of the day, it’s just simple.”
To follow our first course, we indulged in a large shared plate of Drunken Carbonara pasta with red wine, egg yolk and smoked eggplant. The Al Dente pasta was absolute perfection, giving a slight crunch which partnered nicely with the sauce. In complete awe, we unapologetically polished off the plate.
Antonio ‘married’ the carbonara with a couple of glasses of a full-bodied red – Poggerino 2016, Chianti Classico. This wine boasts notes of “super-ripe black cherry, plum, espresso, licorice, new leather and spice” that “flesh out in a heady, super-distinctive Riserva loaded with class and personality.”
To conclude our evening on a sweet note, we were served a creme dessert paired with caramelised strawberries and crumb. Whilst relishing the new addition to their menu, Antionio shared stories of their Cabaret-style nights where burlesque girls would dance inside a hyper-realistic cocktail glass. It sounded absolutely fabulous. “We’ve also done an Italian evening with a band, and pizza and pasta galore, as well as a Chef’s table, to name a few.”
Mister Percy’s refreshed offering is as palate-pleasing and thoughtful as their collection of pours from local and boutique progressive producers, available by the glass quartino or bottle, handpicked for their profound quality and character. With a shared passion for quality and care, the team behind this understated wine bar truly deliver with an unforgettable dose of warmth and welcome.
Open Wednesday to Saturday, 5pm till late.