design: Paul Kelly Design
av: Australia Venue Services Pty Ltd
The word ‘hart’ is an archaic word for a mature stag and the White Hart was Richard II’s personal coat-of-arms. The name became popular as a tavern name during his reign and was adopted by so many inns that The White Hart at one time became a word in popular speech for describing any drinking house.
The north shore suburb of Neutral Bay doesn’t exactly team with wild game and medieval royalty but if you’re after some of ‘ye olde mead’ or homemade cider then the recently opened White Hart is the place to tie up your trusty steed.
Owned by bar expert Grant Collins and his financial partner Jordan Momtazi, the name The White Hart gives away the fact that there is a little British styling going on here, but don’t think your typical London tavern. It possesses a slightly grand English pub ambiance mixing contemporary and vintage aesthetics. Modern furnishings and fixtures are juxtaposed by the odd antique, such as the battered vintage dartboard hung next to the bar.
A dark grey ceiling, black light fittings, faux stone walls, wood paneling and velvet seating adorned with a plush gold rolled backrest add a hint of gentleman’s club to the interiors.
Described by Grant Collins as “a gastropub on steroids”, the venue does actually serve mead fermented from organic honey and mellowed in wooden casks, then served in medieval-style wooden flagons with a squeeze of lime over hand-chipped ice.
Designer Paul Kelly met with the venue owners a year prior to the project starting when they were scouring the city for a suitable venue site.
“It took quite a time to find the correct site but the Neutral Bay location has turned out to be a cracker,” commented Paul. “The original concept was to create a modern version of a drinking parlour. Grant wanted to make it pub-style with cocktails whilst Jordan wanted to make sure there was a food element. That’s how it ended up a mixture of good cocktails, wine and quality dining. It’s been open about three months now and has been trading its brains off!”
The idea behind the old English pub feel is to make the venue an everyday place, somewhere people come to continually not just a destination place.
“However the venue has a polished feel as that’s what the northern suburbs are like,” added Paul. “It’s a polished feel with a little bit of edge which is perfect for Neutral Bay but it wouldn’t work in Bondi. It wasn’t an expensive fit out, certainly not an expensive concept. I’m definitely trying to steer venues away from that crappy ‘eclectic’ thing with old furniture.”
Throughout the venue there are large stone columns complete with sturdy bolts that appear to be supporting the building structure however these are totally fake and are the work of master-fakersDiemme Creative Solutions.
The bar is very oversized for the venue and features a Jet Black Caesarstone surface with Acadamy Tile’s Feza Wall Tile laid in a hexagonal pattern on the bar front. Under bar lighting is provided byOptic Fibre & LED Lighting Solutions’ flexible SMD LED Strip lighting which offers energy efficient, maintenance free lighting technology perfect for continuous linear forms of illumination. Nudie Gold pendants from Ism Lighting hang above the bar.
“It’s not your classic eclectic space,” explained Paul. “It’s quite a punchy little bar with lots of character but not in a quirky style as it’s still quite a polished bar.”
The main dining area has fixed booths to its boundary with custom dining tables from Hughes Commercial Furniture, replica Wishbone dining chairs and a feature Shady Multi Chandelier pendant from Ism Lighting. Ikeda high tables from Café Culture are teamed with trio barstools.
The lounge area features booths created out of timber cladding sections and a warm russet coloured carpet. Standing out against this backdrop is the cobalt blue soft furniture of So Pretty upholstered chairs and Twingo sofas, both from Hughes Commercial Furniture. Low Roland and Antonio tables are scattered amongst the seating whilst HD3 wall lamps in brushed gold provide subtle lighting.
“The venue fit out is very soft and certainly targeted at females,” remarked Paul. “It’s a venue that operates on many different levels – after works drinks, snacks, bar menu, meals, late night snacks, late night kitchen and cocktails.”
Australia Venue Services Pty Ltd was approached to supply a back ground music system that could cater for the occasional DJ playing. Having already successfully used the Martin C115 speakers in places such as Hemmisphere and Lotus Restaurant in Potts Point, it was felt this was the best choices for The White Hart and consequently six were installed along with a Martin CS265 subwoofer. An Allen & Heath GR-05 rack mixer and a couple of QSC RMX850 amplifiers drive the system.