WyNo x Bodega is a merger of two of Ben Milgate and Elvis Abrahanowicz’s businesses. The pair, who gave Sydney dining a fair shake with their fire-fuelled homage to Argentinian barbecue, Porteño, first broke onto the scene with Bodega in 2006. Today, their stable of restaurants – exclusively run or as partnerships – ia an enviable collection of Sydney hotspots. In 2019, the pair upped stakes from Bodega’s original Commonwealth Street site, joining their WyNo wine shop/bar in nearby Holt Street, just behind Porteño.
While there’s a decent amount of nostalgia to the old digs, it’s hard to argue with the logic of pairing the duo’s much-loved tapas with a sizable collection of cutting-edge wine assembled by sommelier Lana Gray. The basic layout of the narrow site has not changed much, indeed not since its predecessor, 121 BC, occupied the space. The room is split lengthways, with floor-to-ceiling racking, complete with sliding library ladders, and well-stocked fridges on one side. While on the other, a new venue-length island serves as a communal high table and bar in one.
Everything in the wine store is fair game in the restaurant, with over 300 bottles also available by the glass – just ask. The wine list – and yes, there is a list, so mid-dinner wanderings to peruse the shelves aren’t necessary, though perfectly acceptable – leans towards small, artisan producers from around the globe.
Local lo-fi stars like BK Wines, Lucy Margaux, Shobbrook and Patrick Sullivan are joined by a slightly newer wave of labels, such as Gentle Folk, Vignerons Schmölzer & Brown and Dilworth & Allain. And if you want to hit some of the big names of ‘natural’ wine, you’ll find bottlings from Gravner, Radikon, Cornelisson and Nicolas Joly, amongst other luminaires.
The proximity to Porteño means the occasional special gets walked around the corner, making the most of their asado and parrilla, but the majority of the signature tapas that has made Bodega so loved is fashioned on-site and in clear view in the tiny kitchen tucked in the corner. Expect the usual pan-Latin influences, with creativity always at the fore. The menu is characteristically fluid, with dishes swapped in and out across any given week, but some old favourites remain, such as the fish fingers (kingfish crudo on garlic-scented toast) and Basque cheesecake.
COVID-19 conditions: WyNo x Bodega have come out of lockdown with slightly trimmed hours and capacity restraints, but otherwise it’s business as usual.