Good Food and Good Beer in Sydney

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I’m going to venture out on a limb here and guess that there’s going to be more than one entry over the next few months about good food and good booze in Sydney. I’m writing this one slightly buzzed too, so you know it comes from the start.

Chris Walker-Bush’s Day Off

My Thursday started off on the best possible foot as I arrived at work to find all of our terminals off and the place abuzz with casual conversation rather than the sounds of people arguing with customers over nit-picky billing inquiries. I spent the next two hours alternating between reading at my desk, shooting the shit with my co-workers, and surfing the net on my phone – and at 2pm was given the option to take some annual leave time and head home.

It was a gorgeous Sydney day and it seemed a waste to spend it at home, so instead I met up with a friend for some lunch.

Tom N Toms

I first fell in love with this coffee shop while living and working in South Korea. It wasn’t a weekend trip to Mokpo without fresh, hot pretzels and an icy yogurt smoothie.

It was a shock to emerge from Town Hall Station back in January and see a very Korean icon sitting across the road. At first glance it looks like a cheap Starbucks knock-off and I guess, as far as coffee goes, it basically is.

But its freshly made deli style pretzels are the shit. Far better than any cheap piece of cake or stale Danish. Don’t believe me? Just take a look.

Delicious deli pretzel with ham, chicken breast, cheese, and mustard

I’m not a coffee drinker, but I’ve not much praise from coffee drinkers about the beverages on offer. I’ve had their yogurt smoothies (passable) and their oddly named ‘Italian Slush’ (not particularly good), but I only go back for the pretzels. I hear good things about their banana bread too.

If you’re ever down on Bathurst Street (cnr of George) and have a hankering for something a little different to McDonalds or another run of the mill cake, swing by a grab a hot pretzel.

Added bonus? Konglish! A real taste of ‘home’ for an ex Korean inhabitant like myself.

Hotel Sweeney’s

Later that evening it was time for some beer and a bite of dinner. Down near Martin Place doing some guitar shopping, we decided to visit one of Sydney’s better kept secrets – Sweeney’s Hotel.

Like so many of Sydney’s old pubs, Sweeney’s Hotel was something entirely different before it became a bar and restaurant. The multi story bar was once a hotel, and you can see that in its open fireplaces and many small rooms. In a lot of ways it’s like Hart’s Bar as mentioned in my entry Private Sydney.

Best Padang in Sydney (so far)

The beer selection isn’t great on the upper levels (although the house brewed Oscar’s is pretty good), but the Thai restaurant on the second floor serves the best Padang Curry I’ve had the pleasure of eating in Sydney. The boys had similarly glowing reviews of the Pad Thai, which comes in colossal servings with plenty of peanuts on the side. With dishes ranging from $8 entrees to $14-$17 for mains, it’s a pretty good value meal for the part of town it’s in.

The best part about Sweeney’s Hotel? It’s the roof-top bar that gives a stunning view of the skyscrapers and the night sky. With only a few tables and a bar up there, it’s never too crowded. It’s a little out of the way down on Carrington Street, but well worth a little trip out of the way if you’re looking for somewhere a little different to have a few quiet beers.

The Watershed

From one of Sydney’s better kept secrets to the blatantly obvious, but the popular places are popular for a reason. Set on the edge of the beautiful Darling Harbour, the Watershed is a little pricier than my usual watering hole, but it affords a gorgeous view and has a few beers that are worth the extra cash.

And, as an added bonus, Darling Harbour put on a fireworks display for us as we made our way there. That’s the kind of thing I love about this city – and even at 9pm on a Thursday night, the place was packed with people out to see the display and sample food from one of the many restaurants in the area.

Fireworks explode over Darling Harbour
Oedenger. A fine drop indeed. Only available in $10 pints

After the sky darkened and the sound died down, it was time to have a few last beers to celebrate pay day. A Little Creatures Bright Ale, James Squire Sundowner, and a fantastic Edenger Weisbier blew capped off a pretty fun night of good beers and good company. I’d thoroughly recommend all through drops, with the Edenger a close second to the Widmer Heff from Portland in the United States on my wheat beers countdown.

The Counter

Friday night and my family had just returned from their six week tour of China and South Korea. You can read about my youngest brother’s adventures over at his blog. He’s only 11 – so be kind!

Our destination was our favourite burger joint in Sydney – an American chain similar to Fudd Rucker’s, but with a lot more variety. As far as I know, the only one in town is in Crow’s Nest – which is a nice short walk from our apartment in St. Leonard’s.

The burgers come in at a relatively heft $15, but you’ve got plenty of options as far as toppings and the like go. I usually opt for a Mexican or Hawaiian style concoction, but felt bad and just had a big greasy beef burger. We ordered up plenty of sides (their sweet potato fries are particularly good) and sampled a new beer, a fruity amber by the name of Stone & Wood. It had a nice passionfruit undertone, and is definitely worth a look if it crosses your path.

There you have it – a quick and dirty one with a few beer and food recommendations. I’ve got a surf camp tomorrow and a Blue Mountain’s Trip on Sunday, so keep your eyes peeled for those.


Tom N Toms

Hotel Sweeney

The Watershed

The Counter

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