W Sydney is edging closer to its launch in October 2023 in the $1 billion harbour Ribbon complex. For those who have watched the extraordinary snail-shaped glass structure rise between two cantilevered motorways on the eastern edge of Darling Harbour over several years, amid pandemic-related construction setbacks, the question of how the Marriott-operated property would deal with its glaring expressway issue remained. Direct views of multi-lane CBD traffic don’t scream “harbourfront luxury”.
W Sydney has finally cleared up this mystery with the recent unveiling of its new dining concept, BTWN, which is set to include the first Australian outpost of 2AM: Dessert Bar by Singaporean celebrity chef Janice Wong.
The name BTWN alludes to guests trotting “between” the restaurant’s multiple planned spaces, which includes a separate breakfast bar, cocktail bar, main dining space and dessert bar – though the name could also fittingly apply to the complex’s unusual position, pinned between the two major motorways.
The 200-seat hospitality space has been boldly carved out on the third floor, almost eye-level with the Western Distributor, and far from blocking it out, the hotel is embracing its unconventional view in a number of clever ways.
London-based Bowler James Brindley, the firm behind the design, drew inspiration from the “kinetic energy” of the location, weaving in elements of the road and urban surrounds to form a whimsical highway-themed wonderland.
Columns spray-painted with graffiti-style works by Sydney-based artist Sophie Odling channel the gritty street art of the nearby underpasses. Festoon lighting evokes night street markets, while two stainless-steel pods, soon to be dedicated pastry and cocktail bar stations, take the form of the curvy Airstream trailer food trucks. Geometric shapes and patterns pay homage to road signage, while long strands of neon-orange ribbon lighting trace the length of the ceiling, mimicking the dazzling long-exposure effect of night traffic photographs.
2AM: Dessert Bar will be BTWN’s biggest drawcard, helmed by Wong, who has twice been named Asia’s pastry chef of the year in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. The original Singapore venue has garnered a slew of accolades since launching in 2007, and there has been much written about Wong’s inventive desserts, which blur the boundaries between sweet and savoury.