There are many reasons to visit Swine & Co. other than to sample their suckling pig from the spit.
But it’s as good a place as any to start.
Before Swine & Co. is even open for your morning coffee, you can find head chef Bobby Taylor in the kitchen. Roasting a suckling pig on the spit takes time and skill and Bobby's here to provide both.
He lights the coals first, letting them heat up before adding in the beechwood. Next, he coats the first pig of the day (they go through three) in a salty mix of fennel, celery salt and black cardamom, before spearing it onto the spit.
In a couple hours the pig begins to crackle and another hour after that it'll ready to be consumed entirely – not a single part is wasted. Every section of the pig will be making it's way to one dish or another and anything leftover goes into tomorrow's croquettes.
Swine & Co. takes this "homage to the pig" thing seriously.
They're located in a magnificent art-deco building on O'Connell street, which locals will remember as the site of an old Bavarian Bier Cafe (and older locals still might remember it as the Bank of NSW). Most of the features in this heritage listed building are the originals, but there's a few minor additions – namely, the central bar where you can find out what a pancetta rum cocktail tastes like, served up by bar manager Led Emmett (Lotus Dumpling Bar). Meat-inspired cocktails are having a moment in New York and London and Swine & Co. is ushering the trend into Sydney.
It might not look like your average local bar, but that's exactly what Swine & Co. sets out to be: a local to the business hub around it. Pop in on your way to work for a morning coffee, swing by at lunch for a sandwich at the deli (eat in or take away) and come back in the evening to linger over pork from the spit. Think of it as your one-stop-CBD-shop.
And when you come back in the evening, further options await still. You can work your way through the drinks list on the street level bar (easily the most magnificent space of the three areas), head upstairs to the champagne mezzanine in the old bank manager's office (opening soon), or venture underground for a feast of suckling pig and king salmon.
If upstairs is all high ceilings and natural light, then downstairs is the womb of the swine: dark, moody and oddly cozy. The 82-seat restaurant is where you'll find city types enjoying the luxury of long lunches, that, once taken under the wing of head sommelier Gustavo Kroneis, end up turning into dinners.
The real hero of the menu is the suckling pig, a beast of a dish that requires a certain gung-ho attitude to conquer. Feeling a little brave? Order the pigs tails for your entree. They're a bit like a juicier crackling, but without the risk of chipping a tooth.
Non-swine lovers shouldn't feel left out. Options of the steak-and-fish variety are plentiful, as are dishes for any gluten- and dairy-intolerant companions. The king salmon is grilled to perfection and plated so beautifully you'll feel bad for eating it… almost.
This is very much farm-to-table food, with the rustic farm tools on display providing a subtle reminder. Very stylish, very macabre. Don't worry, though - it's not the sort of thing to put you off your meal, but instead commands your respect for it.
The pig is king, so bow down before it. And then consume.
Where: 16 O'Connell St, Sydney
Opening Hours: Monday - Friday, 9am - late
Facebook: Swine & Co