Sunday 14 April 2013

Bar review #3: The Wild Rover (Sydney)

You know Grandma's in Sydney, right? That "retrosexual haven of cosmopolitan kitsch and faded granny glamour" (their words) in Clarence St, also one of the first truly good, fun CBD small bars?

Well it's been a long time coming (originally due mid 2012), but the boys behind Grandma's have finally opened the doors to their new bar, The Wild Rover in Surry Hills, and trust us - it was worth the wait.

Named after the mythical "Wild Rover" of Irish folklore, a young gent who roamed the country from bar to bar  ("I've been a wild rover for many a year....spent all my money on whiskey and beer"), and drawing from Surry Hill's early Irish heritage, The Wild Rover is a relaxed, friendly two-level bar (capacity 120) where patrons are invited to sit down with a drink and enjoy "the craic".

"Inviting" is certainly the word for it. On the night we were there, every staff member was more than happy to have a chat, and seemed genuinely happy to be there. Definitely the sort of place you'll quickly feel comfortable in. Effort has clearly been put into the decor too, with the lighting, furnishings and little touches (such as original c1920 Surry Hills maps) all designed to make guests feel comfortable and at ease. We especially loved the old CityRail boards used to display (part of) the whiskey and beer menu - a very cool touch.

Speaking of whiskey and beer, the guys have certainly put a lot of thought into the list, with 100+ whiskies, 60 wines and around 20 beers (and an excellent cocktail list for good measure). The whisky list (in its own leather-bound menu) isn't your usual list of expensive Speysiders and Islay peat-monsters, but rather a well thought-out list of interesting drams that won't break the bank. Despite an Irish-heavy focus, there's a good breadth of Scotch too, with Glenglassaugh, Glenfiddich Age of Discovery, and a few lesser-known Islay malts. Prices are very reasonable Sydney (e.g. Jameson 18yo for $13, Glenlivet 12yo for $9.50).

Food isn't a focus at The Wild Rover, but Sydney Rock Oysters ($18 for 1/2 doz) and housemade sausage rolls ($7) are available, and we're told are very tasty. A relaxing Sunday on the top level, with the light shining in, 1/2 doz oysters and a 4 Pines Stout? There are worse ways to spend a Sunday...

The Wild Rover is at 75 Campbell St, Surry Hills NSW and opens from 4pm-midnight (Mon-Sat) and 12pm-10pm (Sun). Check it out before everyone finds out and it becomes as popular as Grandmas (by the time you read this, it might already be too late!)

 - Martin.

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