In a district as buzzing and diverse as Darling Harbour, venues need to offer a serious array of goodies to get tourists, commuters and locals through the door. With an extensive drinks list, upmarket menu, and prime harbour position, Henley’s Bar & Kitchen manages that particular task with mouth-watering ease.
Henley’s started life in 2016 as the first Sydney outpost of Beer DeLuxe: a craft-focused venue with up to 150 beers sourced from brewers across Australia and around the world available at any given time. While the drinks offering was always broader than its tap lineup and Beer Bible, a name change and menu overhaul in July 2022 saw them catering more obviously for those partial to wine and nibbles, or who prefer to nurse a cocktail while their buddy discusses the distinctions between East and West Coast IPAs.
The result: you can still find beer lovers knocking back IPAs at Henley’s but they’re likely to be sat at a bigger table with mates who shun the world of hops.
The reimagined space is lush and sunny both indoors and on the perpetually-packed outdoor patio. Being west-facing, the sun is always beaming down on Henley’s to create ideal waterside drinking weather.
On tap, you’ll find a range of familiar faces from the country’s largest brewing companies – both big name lagers and offerings from their craft brands – as well as indie beers with an emphasis on Sydney brewers such as Young Henrys and Wayward, and a smattering of well-known internationals like Sierra Nevada and Weihenstephaner.
Those wanting a little more need only ask about the specialty bottle and can range behind the bar which features classics for any occasion. The adventurous will enjoy limited releases from the criminally insane One Drop while lovers of dark beer will be in heaven with Sierra Nevada’s Narwhal Imperial Stout.
However, it’s the Belgian selection that stands out: classics such as Saison Dupont, Westmalle Tripel and Delirium Tremens all make an appearance. Alongside other punch-packers like La Chouffe, Tripel Karmeliet and Lindemans Oude Gueuze Cuvée René, they put forward a strong argument for lounging around Henley’s on a rainy day.
For those looking elsewhere, there’s more than two dozen wines, a wide selection of signature, classic and non-alc cocktails, spirits aplenty and the usual selection of alcohol-free options.
Gaze over the food menu and you’ll see it sells itself with a range of bar snacks, meals, share plates and a kids menu. Highlights include a cheesy, garlicky truffle bread, a vibrant prawn bowl called Tijuana Spicy Street and some Kingfish Tostadas that are so fresh and delicious you need to try them now before some maniac tastes them, loves them, and makes them into an NFT.
At the time of writing, they’re hosting DJs every Saturday and Sunday, and live music on Friday, while you’ll also find weekday lunch specials, hospo discounts and high teas every Saturday and Sunday featuring a tower of snacks and sweets with bottomless beer, wine or spritz.
Although Henley’s focus on craft beer isn’t as acute as in the venue’s previous life, the spotlight is instead shared across a diverse food and drinks menu in a gorgeous venue destined to delight visitors on many a sunny Sydney evening, making it a welcome stop for anyone visiting Darling Harbour.