You can leave your hat on
Thanks to Justine from Roar Publicity for inviting me to visit and review Tharen's in Kings Cross, or Potts Point as Google Map tells me. It certainly looks like the very young and passionate owner Bobby Jewell has created something special to bring to the table of Sydney's dining experience. The only other themed restaurant I've been to many years ago was Dracula's on the Gold Coast but at Tharen's you sort of become the entertainment. There is a bit of a mad hatters fetish going on here and Alice in Wonderland would feel quite at home.
Advertised as 'Sydney's first and only fancy dress restaurant with 5-star dining' I can't think of any other place in Sydney quite like it — except for perhaps Azteca's in Randwick where I've seen customers wearing Mexican sombreros. The fancy dress consists of being encouraged to wear any hat, wig, mask, prop, lei or feather boa you see available — I for one wanted to try them all and ended up trying about 30 of them. It sure makes for some funny and memorable photos and sets the fun mood of the restaurant. I would love to see Tharen's introduce costumes to wear like fancy coats and dresses which would bring the restaurant to an even more crazy atmosphere.
In terms of the food I wouldn't say it's '5-star dining' but it's generous portions will definitely fill you up and it's a step above the usual fare I'd expect from a themed restaurant. All four table guests were pleasantly surprised with their meals and combined with the fun-filled atmosphere makes for good night out. They also offer quite a few choices on the menu but I was disappointed that the websites headlined entrée of Prawn and Crab Ravioli with seafood bisque was not on the menu tonight and was wondering if the advertised main headlined dish of Mussels Mariniere was in fact the South Australian Black mussel in tomato bouillabaise broth — perhaps it was? If you're after a spectacular looking dessert then Tharen's speciality celebration 'fiery' cake, the classic Bombé Alaska, sure gets the cameras and guests excited. Reminds me of the time when the savoury dish of the Hor Mok Talay came out at Thai Pothong in Newtown wrapped in foil and all lit up. I'm a big fan of peppermint choc chip ice cream although was hoping the meringue shell would have been a bit crispier and thought the berry coulis was a touch too much on the sour side for my taste buds.
Their midweek specials (Tues, Wed, Thurs) of a $35 a la carte menu including one main course, garlic bread, salad and a glass of red or white wine seems fairly reasonable although if you're looking for a more lively party crowd then I'd suggest coming on their busier Friday or most popular Saturday night which usually draws the large birthday groups and hen's night crowd — but be warned it gets very loud. They seem to have two packages, The Tharen's Experience for $65 per guest for bread, salad, vegetables, entree, main and dessert or the Tharen's Sparkling Experience for $99 per guest which includes all your food and sparkling/drinks all night. The magical entertainer Liam Power is amazing and the drag queen Prada Clutch will put a smile on your face with her sense of humor — she actually sings as well. Service is friendly and welcoming and Barry the barmen makes a lethal Long Island Iced Tea — apparently that's the way they make all their cocktails aka strong. With such a cool venue I thought it would have been great if they had some party lights to further encourage the dancing and perhaps even adding a burlesque performer after dessert which I think would make it an even better one-stop party venue.
PROS: Decent sized meals, Entertainment included, Lethal cocktails, A vast array of hats to try on, Popular place for hen's nights and large birthday groups, Friendly service
CONS: Very loud, limited parking, Thought it needed party lights to encourage dancing, Small table space
MUST TRY: Wearing all the hats and working out the tricks of the magician
Simon goes hat crazy
Entertainment and decor
Waitress and Wall of Fame
Upstairs dining area used when really busy
Reflections of hat madness
Watch your eyebrows
Down the rabbit hole
Lane way entrance
Red carpet entry
Alice in Wonderland door