First published on 20 Jan 2010. Updated on 10 Feb 2010.
Behind a red door in Kings Cross, there exists a secret fantasy world. The world is Tharen's, the only fancy dress themed restaurant in Sydney and brainchild of owner Bobby Jewell.
A drinking session between Jewell and his friends a couple of years ago led to its transformation from French restaurant into one of Sydney's oddest nights out. "We were just drinking one night at the restaurant and went 'You know what we should do? We should get costumes'," he recalls.
And get costumes, they did. Fancy dress is mandatory for staff, so you have Alice in Wonderland seating you at your table, Snow White and Robin Hood serving you dinner and Prince Charming pouring your wine.
Guests have the option of dressing up at home or helping themselves to the restaurant's treasure trove of wigs, hats, and props. "We love it when people come dressed up. The funniest is when the accountants come in for their corporate party and they're all so stiff," Jewell laughs. "Half an hour later after a few beers, they're all dressed up in pink wigs, crazy hats and feather boas and they're running around singing 'I love you baby'."
Entertainment over the course of the evening includes circulating magicians and resident drag queen Prada Clutch who "greets patrons on the red carpet, flirts with everybody, sings a couple of songs and tells a few jokes over the microphone".
"We play a wicked soundtrack that gets everyone singing along. Before you know it, people have been in Tharen's for about six hours and they're like 'Shit, what just happened?' It's a whirlwind: the drag queen, magician, singing, dancing, the costumes. It's crazy stuff."
The decor is old Parisian inspired, with royal blue and gold Florence Broadhurst wallpaper, chandeliers and theatre curtains. The fantasy element combined with a rare opportunity to really let your hair down makes Tharen's one of the quirkiest and most offbeat nights out this city has to offer. "As soon as people put on a hat they lose their inhibitions and become more relaxed and friendly. It's lovely to see."
Full venue details for Tharen's.