13 April 2010

Tharen's: Sydney's First and Only Fancy Dress Restaurant, Potts Point (9 April 2010)

13-15 Kellet Way, Potts Point (Kings Cross) NSW 2011

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

Prada Clutch



Room of hats and couple trying to have a romantic night amongst the craziness

Upstairs dining area used when really busy

Wall of Fame stairwell

Smoking area outside

Guys can wear pink feather boas too

Reflections of hat madness

Scary mask

Toilet renovation

Don't steal the hats notice in toilets

The food
Salad, bread and olive oil

Twice cooked cheese soufflé with tomato fondue and micro herb salad

Chicken liver parfait with cognac jelly, roast honey figs and croutons

Smoked salmon terrine with avocado and a roast hazelnut herb salad

Pacific oysters with cucumber, salmon roe and wasabit veloute

Spinach cannelloni baked with silver beet and fetta topped with a tarragon soubise sauce

Lemon and dill crusted salmon fillet with rocket and citrus sabayon

Gnocchi with roast pumpkin, fresh sage in a creamy tomato and white wine sauce

Thyme infused chicken supreme with creamed leek and grain mustard potato

Side vegetables of potato, green beans and broccoli

Bombé Alaska

Watch your eyebrows


The drinks
Long Island Iced Tea $17.50, 2009 Beelgara 'Vines' Semillon Sauvignon Blanc $9, Toohey's New $6.50

Down the rabbit hole
Lane way entrance

Red carpet entry

Alice in Wonderland door

Fancy a fancy-dress dinner party mirror

Tharen's nestled behind Favela and Blanco

View Larger Map
Tharen Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon


Maria said...

Oh dear... LOL the cake looks Fantastic!

foodwink said...

Your hat collages crack me up. The one with receding hairline (and you channeling Austin Power) wins my vote. Oh wait, was that your real hair?

OohLookBel said...

hehehe, you look hilarious! The venue certainly beats Dirty Dick's in the food department.

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

Hehe I was offered a meal here and I said my usual thing where I only write honest reviews and that providing a meal will not influence editorial. I never heard back from them after that! :P

Sara @ Belly Rumbles said...

That looks so fun. Hmmm Josh's 18th is on the horizon.........

Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial said...

Woohoo, great review, thanks Simon! Too cute - you look like every member of the Village People in those hats.. :D

Phuoc'n Delicious said...

Hehe.. Look like you had a fun night. Which hat/wig was your favourite?

Simon Leong said...

hi maria, definitely one of the most theatrically presented cakes i've ever come across.

hi food wink, you can never have enough hats i say hehe. actually you've caught me out, it was my hair — in maybe 50 years time hehe cheeky! ;-)

hi bel, sounds like dirty dick's is another themed restaurant in Sydney so that means Tharen's is not the only themed restaurant anymore. noice find. looks like dirty dick's does a bigger show as well but possibly you don't get to dress up?

hi lorraine, it's always good to be honest in your reviews. i don't usually think to say that but i'll always provide an honest review once i've been.

hi sara, i reckon it would be a great venue for an 18th. the more people the better so you can just about take over the whole place :-)

hi celia, i think i'm missing the cowboy and builder and indian but hopefully next time i'll complete the set ;-)

hi phuoc, that's a good question. i reckon a pretty cool on is the huge pink curly one would be my favourite. it really makes a statement and reminds me of marge simpson hehe

Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said...

Sounds like a crazy crazy place! Definately not a place for a romantic dinner for two hehe I hope that couple knew what they were in for beforehand.

And that bomb alaske looks MAD!

Amy said...

This sounds like crazy fun. The food doesn't look too bad also. Yeah, the hat collage was so funny with your cheeky smile. LOL.

nomnomnibblies said...

omg :O this place looks awesome!!! and love the pics of you in the different hats :P hehe too funny!

Tina said...

Cool cake - but why's it green inside?

Simon Leong said...

hi angie, you can throw a quiet romantic dinner for 2 out the window for sure hehe although it possibly won't stop maybe a bit of romance happening later in the night though with those lethal cocktails they make.

hi amy, after about the 20th hat i think i started to relax a bit more and get a bit silly hehe

hi nomomnibblies, it's always great seeing other people in the hats and wigs and having a laugh at them (secretly)

hi tina, the green stuff is the peppermint choc chip ice cream. most of the tables had one but i'm not sure if they were all the same inside. i'm assuming they were.

Forager said...

Oh what a great find! I have a few celebrations coming up so maybe I'll suggest this place. Looks like a fun night!

Simon Leong said...

hi forager, definitely a fun place to let your hair down with a few drinks for celebrations. :-)

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