The Neighborhood Pub Crawl: Week 216

The Rose Hotel in Chippendale: Sydney, Australia

I have often contemplated the curious color palette of The Rose Hotel on my way to work. In the nicest way possible, I would say the names of the paint chips were Victorian Christmas and baby vomit.

Although I was very familiar with the exterior of the hotel, I hadn’t been inside until the ‘fight of the century’ between Mayweather and Pacquiao. The main bar with the trompe l’oeil ceilings was full, so Barret and I found a wood bench in the spacious courtyard and ordered a round of Bloody Marys with lunch. With the exception of one loud group, the audience was cheering for Pacquiao and when he lost the hotel quickly emptied.

A laundry line outside a house in Darlington: Sydney, Australia

Barret and I followed the exodus of people back out onto the street, but the afternoon weather was so nice that we decided to take a different route home. From Chippendale we walked through a quiet residential street in Darlington before ending up in Redfern.

A faded and peeling wall in Redfern: Sydney, Australia

It wasn’t so long ago that Redfern was a rough neighborhood, but the last decade has brought about significant gentrification. Strolling down Regent Street, Barret and I popped into an antique shop and against better judgment we left with two small spoons made from cow bones. Thin black decorative lines were carved into the polished surface.

Front door of The Bearded Tit in Redfern: Sydney, Australia

A few doors down from the antique shop was an establishment called The Bearded Tit. It’s an LGBT-friendly bar named after a puffy white bird that breeds in the reedy swamps of Europe and Asia. The backyard housed a ‘caravan of love’ and the gender-less bathrooms had a large moose hanging near the sinks.

A coaster at The Bearded Tit: Sydney, Australia

The best part about The Bearded Tit was its support for art. Local and international artists can apply to have their work displayed in a number of unique ways- from a wall to a curiosity cabinet. A ‘taxidermy tableaux’ surrounded a TV that was perfect for video art and resident artists could receive free bar food and 50% off drinks.

A small bakery on the Regent Street in Redfern: Sydney, Australia

After a round of champagne, Barret and I continued our circuitous journey home. Small family-owned restaurants, bakeries, and video rental relics lined the rest of Regent Street.

A terrace house in Erskineville: Sydney, Australia

It was dinnertime when we reached Erskineville, but neither of us wanted to cook so we walked through our neighborhood and towards the southern end of Newtown.

The Union Hotel in Newtown: Sydney, Australia

The Union Hotel had a lively cover band in the front and a large self-contained restaurant in the back. We ordered food and sat down near a father and his young daughter whom were both reading books. While there are more charming hotels further up King Street, Barret and I were both drawn to the classic brick Aussie hotel circa 1946.

The reason that I like Sydney’s inner west neighborhoods so much is that they are a perfect combination of historic buildings, livability, and community culture. It’s definitely not a cheap place to live, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better area for a stroll and a neighborhood pub crawl.

How to get to The Rose Hotel: 52-54 Cleveland Street, Chippendale NSW 2008

How to get to The Bearded Tit: 183 Regent Street, Redfern NSW 2016

How to get to the Union Hotel: 576 King Street, Newtown NSW 2042

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Leichhardt: Week 121

Leichhardt

“Hmmm… This is not what I expected.” Barret and I were walking through an empty and mostly-closed shopping center called the Italian Forum. It was built in the heart of Little Italy, but it looked like the namesake heart had stopped beating yesterday, or maybe last month.

A few restaurants were open, but they had the ambiance of a concrete food court. Only one boutique store was open in the whole building and it was stuffed to the gills with cheap Venetian masks.

“Let’s walk back down the street in the other direction.”

We retraced our route for several blocks without finding anything that grabbed us. There were good restaurants in Leichhardt- they just weren’t Italian or Italian-enough.

During our third pass down the road our hunger kicked in and we settled for a sprawling restaurant named Giogia. It had a canopy, large parking lot, and a huge laminated menu that reminded me of strip mall restaurants in Los Angeles. I was completely unsurprised to learn it used to be an old BP station.

I realize it’s probably not fair to judge how well Giogia prepares Italian cuisine when all I have had was a gluten-free pizza, but it was called the Leichhardt Special and it was soggy. If I were Gordon Ramsey, I would have slammed my fist on top of the pizza. But I am not him, so I ate half because it would be a shame to waste perfectly half-cooked food.

“Do you remember that cute place we went to in Brooklyn?”

“Yeah,” Barret replied as his slice of pizza collapsed en route to his mouth. “That restaurant was really nice.”

“Yeah. Now that was Italian.”

Penny Fours baked treats: Leichhardt, Sydney

We passed on their dessert and instead went across the street to a bakery called Penny Fours.  It wasn’t the kind of place where people lingered behind the counter if there were no customers- they went back to help out in the kitchen. Within a minute of us arriving, a woman peered out from a glass window on the furthest wall and walked out to greet us.

The layout was a little wacky and they didn’t offer coffee, but we didn’t care. Look at how mesmerizing the chocolate hazelnut cookie is! And the homemade Rocky Road smothered with dark chocolate and pistachios! Word on the street is that the owner/pastry chef used to make bread at this famous place near Bondi Beach. At least, that’s what I overheard while savoring my heavenly mountain of marshmallows.

I also learned where all the good Italian restaurants went: Haberfield.

About: Leichhardt

How to get to Penny Fours: 141 Norton St, Leichhardt, NSW 2040

How to (not) get to Giogia: 126a Norton St, Leichhardt, NSW 2040

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