When Gregory Bampton and Phil Stenvall opened their first Sydney venue, Bar Suze, in 2021, the duo approached the menu through a Scandinavian lens with toast skagen, hasselback potatoes, smoked seafood and meatballs.
Their new opening takes guests to France (by way of Potts Point), with the Parisian-inspired Caravin — an intimate, two storey restaurant-wine bar-hybrid nestled in the suburb’s busy Ward Avenue.
Occupying the former Dumpling and Beer site, Caravin makes the most of its compact footprint with the addition of curb-side seating – ideal for Friday afternoon Apéro hour, which they host from 4:30 to 5:30pm. The venue’s interiors draw inspiration from “small places in Paris that are casual,” says Bampton. An art deco-style tiered chandelier hangs from the five-meter-high ceilings, while a split-level floorplan creates an atmosphere that is simultaneously intimate and grand.
Stenvall’s kitchen keeps guests satisfied with a rotating menu that challenges the clichés of European fare. You won’t find bistro-style steak frites or confit duck at Caravin; instead, you can snack on comté gougères with trout roe, crab crumpets, smoked beetroot tartare, and foie gras beignets. For more substantial dishes, there’s pasta, steamed fish with braised prawns, and a lamb cutlet with wild garlic and carrot. Finish with a serving of cheese and cider, or mandarin and coffee semifreddo with burnt marshmallow (a nod to Bar Suze’s beloved Bombe Alaska, perhaps).
For Bampton, it was crucial to keep the wine and drinks list fun, “with a focus on, but not exclusive to, natural wines” from both Australian and international growers. Service is attentive but casual—the kind you’d expect from a neighborhood local worthy of its salt (Caravin is in good company with Piccolo Bar, Primary Coffee, and the newly opened Raja, all a stone’s throw away).
An artwork hangs on one of the venue’s interior walls, bearing the message, “You will always have a seat at my table.” Current popularity indicates that guests might want to consider booking their spot in advance, but, in spirit, Caravin makes this sentiment ring true.
Perch up at Caravin and watch the world pass by on Ward avenue from 5:30pm on Thursdays and Fridays, and midday on Saturdays and Sundays.