Friday, 22 October 2010

upstairs downstairs

Pubs in Sydney have made an art out of becoming a little more than waterholes for post-work refreshment. We've talked about gastropubs before, but there's also a collection of Sydney pubs that offer not just great pub fare, but a more dressed-up option should you decide to go (dare I say it) a little bit fancy. Either way you look at it, ze food? Is good.

The Woollahra Hotel/Bistro Moncur
116 Queen St
Woollahra NSW 2025
(02) 9363 2519

A Sydney institution, The Woollahra Hotel is perfect for catching up with mates for an afternoon gin and tonics or tucking into substantial salads and crisp fries, while overlooking the well-heeled shopping precinct. Since the pub opened in 1993, Bistro Moncur - shaped and overseen by executive chef and Australian food industry icon Damien Pignolet -  has paid homage to chic Parisian bistro atmosphere and great food. Back with one-hat status in the SMH Good Food Guide 2011, expect classic modern French bistro eats like Yellow fin tuna carpaccio and scallop tartare with avocado cream, baby coriander and chives, served with a seaweed and eschalot vinegarette or a classic sirloin, Cafe de Paris style.

The Four in Hand Pub/Bistro
105 Sutherland St
Paddington NSW 2021
(02) 9326 2254

Ex-Banc enfant terrible Colin Fassnidge's little slice of Paddington pub gold continues to be a winner, whether you're in the bar to watch the game and a few beers with the boys or styling it up in the bistro. The pub itself is a historic gem, tucked away a the bottom end of Paddo. There's plenty of original charm left in this old gal and you'll continue to be impressed by the bar menu. There's black pudding with apple sauce (trust him, he's Irish) to share, as well as corn beef (Wagyu) and tempura scallop balls with aioli. The only pub in Sydney to have a 2 hat restaurant - you can be sure that while the pub food is good, the dining room is great. You can order a whole suckling pig for 9 of your best mates (a snip at $80 per head including accompaniments), but if you're after ala carte, give the sashimi bonito and tuna with pickled cucumber and snow or spring lamb two ways, with herb gnocchi and braised baby fennel a go.

The Central Hotel/District Dining
358 Elizabeth St
Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9212 1068

Warren Turnbull is best known for his fine-diner Assiette in Sydney's Surry Hills, but further down the road, on Randle Street you'll find his newest project District Dining. Opening this week the marble-topped tables and sleep dark wood interior make a great place to have share plates of crispy quail eggs with tarragon and anchovy mayonaise, veal tongue with pickled turnip, salsa verde with almonds or the cracking fried chicken with coleslaw and lime aioli. There's a brilliant wine list, interesting presentation (jam jars, mini paella dishes and chopping boards) and of course, great produce on show.
Downstairs at The Central Hotel, you can expect great pizzas and other, more casual fare - but when you know it's been made by Turnbull, value-for-money doesn't even begin to cover it.