I’m going to put it out there right now, I love Abba. And I love wigs. Combining the two is a pleasure we should all attempt to engage in more often and, frankly, enough to successfully woo me. Combining the two with food and alcohol (which may sound like a family Christmas everyone has only partial recall of) a drag queen and a magician is, quite simply, ridiculously fun. And when you hit Tharens, tucked down Kellet Lane in Sydney’s Potts Point, on a Saturday night, fun is what you best be in the mood for.
Tharens is a dining experience. It’s a camp, slightly crazed and rather fantastical package, the aesthetic lovechild of Paris and Lewis Carroll set to a soundtrack of divas and dancing queens. And to truly enjoy your night of be-wigged debauchery, you must submit entirely. Suspend all expectations of the ordinary dining experience, don a wig, hat or mask (kindly supplied by the restaurant) and sing lustily with the hens (who, I am going to assume, make up a large portion of the Saturday night clientele). Don’t go for a casual dinner or a low key wine; go because you don’t mind waiting a little longer for your mains if a magician is turning red cards blue. Go because you will join the waitress who has brought a flaming Bombe Alaska to your table, in an impromptu dance routine to whatever song is deemed appropriate for your table; Abba’s I Do or a rousing Happy Birthday or, in our case, Beyonce’s Single Ladies. And absolutely go to admire, no, ogle, the pins of Tharens’ resident performing drag queen, the lovely Prada Clutch.
The food is tasty – the menu created by head chef Wayne Kingsman – and the service perhaps hindered by the fact that after everyone has eaten or, really, once everyone is sufficiently uninhibited, every spare inch of carpet actually becomes a dance floor. And when there is no carpet to be seen, the tables come in handy. I personally didn’t get up, my shoes were far too precarious (dare I say, Prada Clutch-esque) but the hens did and all power to them.
Owned by (the young and suitably dapper) restaurateur and chef Bobby Jewell, Tharens is genuinely the only restaurant of its kind in Sydney. There are, thankfully, plans to take it interstate so as not to limit the costumed frivolity to just one city. If you like wigs, Dolly Parton and drag queens, handsome magicians and waitresses dressed in Alice in Wonderland costumes, all with a side order of decent food and a great wine list (yes, it’s a niche dining desire, but a valid one) then it’s time to join the party.
Twice cooked cheese soufflé
Spinach cannelloni baked with silver beet and fetta topped with a tarragon soubise sauce
Bombe Alaska (everyone loves a flaming novelty cake)
I Drank* (plenty):
A champagne and strawberry liqueur concoction, the name of which presently eludes me
2009 Beelgara Vines Semillon Sauvignon Blanc
* Cocktails are very reasonably priced. May I suggest you take advantage of this, should your Tharens experience be kicking off an overall Kings Cross, Sydney experience.
A rainbow perm wig, a Pretty-Woman-races-scene hat, a sparkly cabaret top hat and a bald wig with a lovely hem of grey hair.
13-15 Kellet St, Potts Point, Sydney
9326 9510 + www.tharens.com.au