ESQ Bar & Dining Review

Reviewed by Jasmine Crittenden

ESQ Bar & Dining aims to transport diners to New York in the roaring ‘20s, when jazz was the soundtrack and illegal cocktail bars popped up in all kinds of hidden places.

Located beneath soaring ceilings on the second floor of the Queen Victoria Building in the Sydney CBD, ESQ isn’t exactly a secret. But live jazz, low lighting and a vintage-inspired interior certainly create a heady atmosphere. 

Fittingly, Head Chef Guillaume Dubois has created a menu of classics with surprising touches and premium local produce. Plunge straight in with foie gras made sprightly with poached bear and comforting with brioche. From there, the 250 gram sirloin is a wise choice, served with a decaded peppercorn-cognac cream.

It pairs well with the shoestring fries with furikake salt—a Japanese seasoning of herbs, sesame seeds and seaweeds. A lighter alternative is the roasted blue eye cod with Grenobloise—a melt-in-your-mouth butter sauce.

The most spectacular dessert on the menu is undoubtely the Bombe Alaska. Your waiter puts a match to it at your table, creating a stunning blue flame which lightly singes the meringue shell. Within, you’ll find moreish layers of mandarin, coconut and rum.

For diners keen to explore more flavours—or avoid the anguish of decision making—there’s a choice of two degustations.

Behind the grand bar, Group Beverage Manager Michael Jones has put together a similarly decadent drinks list. Arrive between 4pm and 6pm for ‘six o’clock swill’, which means $15 Negronis and Martinis.

Once you’ve settled in, get a little more adventurous with one of ESQ’s original concoctions, such as the Rhubironi, a bittersweet meeting of Tanqueray Gin, Rhubi Rhubarb Liquour, Cinzano Rosso, Okar Bitter Amaro, and Earl Grey smoke.

Jones worked with sommelier Louella Mathews on the wine and spirits list. It features whiskies, of which there are more than 50, and exceptional reds, including Penfolds ‘Bin 600’ Cabernet/Shiraz, available by the glass (for a pretty penny).

To find out more and reserve your table head to -