If you hold a predilection for the Orient, Tom Cruise or Bryan Brown, tropical climates, and one exceptionally polite British documentary film maker, then you’re going to love Newcastle’s favourite bar, Money Penny.
On the harbour at Honeysuckle, Money Penny has been in fine form and fettle for some years, serving cocktails, dreams, beer, and food glorious food to good-timing Novocastrians all without the pretence and posturing of your typical inner-city hang. If Rancho Relaxo were real, Money Penny would be the resort’s swim-up bar. Actually, there’s a Hunter Development Corporation project I could get behind.
Outside or inside, or even down by the ‘grassy’ green right side, it doesn’t matter which you choose, because cool, cosy, comfy and ambient seating abounds. Inside, underneath blazing disco balls, geometric patterned booth seats run parallel with the kitchen. They continue just past the up-cycled cutlery station and the psychedelic millennial-school-dayz mural by local Insta-famous meme-lord of Aussie cultural cringe, Campbell Walker and his righteous accomplice, Felicity Handley. My favourite though, is the eye-poppingly hallucinatory, fine strip of art on the bricks between the ‘grass’ and the bar; happy drinks, melting pizzas and a transcendent maneki-neko, by Reece Glynn.
Baby, even if it’s cold outside, the clear vinyl walls are rolled down and the heaters turned up, like Fat Joe featuring Remy Ma and French Montana.
The cocktails are skilfully scrawled in black and red ink on an endless roll of brown butchers paper behind the well-stocked bar. The list changes often, but always features at least one made with gin, one made with rum and, crucially, most made with fresh fruit. For instance, No Scrubs is a delicious concoction of gin and passionfruit, lime and bitters, while Soda Jerk is pretty much like drinking the juice from a boozy mandarin. Re-fresh-ing. You see, it’s the fresh fruit that makes Money Penny cocktails taste, ah, the best. If you know, you know…
Other beverages besides cocktails include beer – obviously – and not your typical beers at that: craft beers ... like Stone and Wood (on tap), Balter and Akasha (not on tap). Also, Coopers and Corona. The wine list makes sense, but could be brought to better health with some contemporary triage.
So, while the cocktails perhaps overshadow the kitchen skills of Miss Money Penny, the food menu is perfect for sharing.
Crunchy duck wontons are packed with steamy, shredded and super flavoursome duck, while a zig-zag drizzle of Kewpie mayo (or is it aioli?) gives a lovely creaminess to the crunch.
A bowl of cauliflower florets, deep fried to resemble chunky bits of popcorn, make for a unique vegetarian option that is significantly improved with a liberal dip into the accompanying zesty tahini yoghurt. Buffalo wings arrive smelling as sticky and spicy as they look. The creamy ranch and fresh celery sticks will give welcome reprieve for those who don’t like it hot.
FYI – the crispy base pizzas feature all the glutens, as does the cobb loaf, but, really, who doesn’t love a cobb loaf? Especially this one, which is certifiably one of the most tastefully tasty throwbacks in town. Just imagine bacon, zucchini and green onion chunks deliciously glued to a cheesy, hollowed out cob. Wizardry is what it is.
They have two desserts, a Nutella brownie and a vanilla bean brulee.
Money Penny is an irreverent amalgam of East meets West, of Flanagan meets Coughlin, of appropriateness meets professionalism. You will be dazzled with the ice-work and baffled by the bottle-work.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.