The Sydney CBD is a pretty large area that isn’t really broken up into areas or localities. Other than The Rocks or Millers Point, which still share the same postcode as Sydney, there aren’t really names for areas. You might say “around Town Hall” or “near St. James” to give a guide, but it isn’t that helpful. But when a little pocket of the Sydney CBD is blessed with such a fine collection of small bars, then this pocket really needs a name. The pocket to which I refer is bounded by George Street to the East, Market Street to the South, Sussex Street to the West and sort of Jamieson Street to the North – and I shall name thee “West Wynyard”.
At last count, I reckon that there are at least 10 small bars in West Wynyard, including Sydney’s first ever “Small Bar” as per the licencing laws definition. Given that heritage, it is only right that West Wynyard should be regarded as Sydney’s mecca when it comes to small bars. Spooning Goats, Mojo Record bar, Balcony Bar, Stitch Bar, Shirt Bar, The Foxhole, Since I Left You and Grasshopper are all to be found here – and I am reasonably confident there are others. Small Bar crawl – here we come.
BotF went on a small tear on Tuesday night with a few work-mates for the obligatory post off-site “debrief”. We ended up at Hart’s Pub to join in their Tuesday night trivia comp. More on that, separately, but between the Mojo Record Bar and Hart’s – BotF pulled into a hole in the wall called York Lane” (Bar?), which is in York Lane north of Erskine. We were on a mission and drained our handle of Orion quite smartly, but I recognised that York Lane deserved a more relaxed and studied visit. So on clear, but bitingly cold Sydney lunchtime, I pulled in for a feed and a beer. The menu is surprising varied given the size of the place (capacity is 30 people). On another occasion I’ll have a crack at the cheese board, but given the cold – I opted for a lamb stew. Brilliant. Slow cooked, with tender chunky shreds of lamb in a rich tomato base and plump cannelini beans – this was perfect winter fare. Mightn’t have been big but it was wholesome. These fellas work hard and York Lane is open from 6.30am to 10pm (Mon – Wed) or 12pm (Thurs – Fri) and on Saturday evenings.
Now given their space constraints, it’s no surprise that their beer list is not huge – but gees – short but very eclectic. If you are going to have a stout – 4 Pines will do the trick and there’s nothing wrong with the locally brewed (from West Wynyard’s neighbouring Millers Point brewer – the Lord Nelson) 3 Sheets. What’s very nifty, however, is how they squeezed in a little temprite machine from which they are pouring ice cold Orion Beer. I’ve only seen this once before in the Grace Darling Hotel in Collingwood (also on tap). Orion Beer comes from Okinawa, Japan and according to their almost entirely Japanese website is “For Your Happy Time”. The wonderful poster that is on display in the bar reflects Orion Beer as a drink for US servicemen that were stationed in Okinawa (and maybe still are). There’s no longer anything German about Orion – it is a very inoffensive, slightly sweet malty beer. Very clean and very simple. Orion Breweries make at least 7 varieties including the unfortunately named Zero Life
I am in Florida visiting Dad. It is hot as blazes. Even with the heat, and it being the dead of summer here, that lamb stew sounds damn enticing.
Can you explain what you mean by ‘small bar’ a bit more? I get that it is physically small, but it sounds like a term of art of some sort and that there might be more to it than that
In NSW, the licensing laws used to really protect big pubs and clubs. Basically if you were a small restaurant, your patrons couldn’t just have a beer or drink without eating. In Melbourne, small cafes, even bookshops, could serve alcohol without requiring patrons to eat. A “small bar” scene grew up and Melbourne proved you could run a bar without being huge and having poker machines, gaming facilities and batteries of plasma screens showing sport. In 2008, there were some changes to the NSW liqour licensing laws enabled restaurants to become/double up as bars. I don’t think that there is a restriction on size ie people, but you can’t permit takeaway booze (not sure why not) and there’s some other conditions that have to be met. Basically, a much smaller place can now serve alcohol and the number of licences issued increased substantially. So, I don’t know if “Small Bar” has a legal definition – but it is reasonably descriptive of a new type of pub in NSW.
[…] mentioned in a recent blog, this correspondent went on mini pub crawl – ending up at the Hart’s Pub trivia night. […]
[…] West Wynyard continues its unstoppable crusade to become the pocket of Sydney that has the largest number of cool, small bars. The latest one I’ve visited is The Rook – “rooftop at 56-58 york”. Like many West Wynyard bars it doesn’t exactly scream its location at street level. If you know the address, it is straight-forward to find – just press R on the lift inside (R for roof or indeed Rook). Once out of the lift its straight ahead to the bar, which has a number of small high tables with bar stools. The main capacity is out to the right in front of the kitchen. I think that they are keen to get you to eat. […]
[…] correspondent’s place of work has moved from West Wynyard – the epicentre of Sydney’s CBD bar scene, but not so far away that new additions […]