Surry Hills has never been short of a drinking establishment and The Winery is yet another, but so much more. Not content with just being a bar (pish! Who does that anymore), they also have a very pleasant restaurant-vibe happening. Avoiding the minimalist look which became derigueur during the ice age of Sydney bar-dom (i.e. before Her Holiness relaxed the liquor licensing laws), The Winery’s look is quirky, but not in an overly cutesy way; quirky dark, not quirky saccharine.
The rise of the gastro-pub over the past few years has had its champions and it’s detractors. Purists may pine for a cheap steak, some chips and microwaved peas but frankly, I don’t. I want a veal & chorizo sausage roll with a pear & tomato jam and I may just take it home to meet mama, ‘cause damn that thing is good. Why have soggy iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes and a slice of cucumber when I can have Persian feta, beetroot, broccoli & toasted almond salad? And why in all that’s good and merciful wouldn’t you want roasted mushrooms stuffed with ricotta, pine nuts & pesto? Daily.
Apparently The Winery has a mains menu. I wouldn’t know. I never make it past the yumminess of the shared menu and it’s voluptuous serves. But what about dessert you say? How can they possibly top the delicious warm crunch of a cinnamon-y apple crumble? Well… honey ice cream terrine with nougat & vanilla anglaise or double chocolate brownie, fairy floss & vanilla ice cream anyone? I’m gonna need some “alone time” just thinking about it.
Okay, that’s all very well and good but this is a bar after all. So what of the booze? The classics are all there and the retinue of house-designed (mixologised?) cocktails is pleasing and fun. Blissfully, The Winery also offers an array of jugs. Ahem. Rosé sangria, Pimms & Lemonade (Pimms, gin, vermouth, strawberries & lemonade), or a fruit salad (umm fruit salad, and booze. Obviously.). Yes, please. One of each.
Weekend afternoons are ladies… night at The Winery. Chit-chat, bubbly and nibblies, both sweet and savoury. Delightful! They call it The Girl’s Picnic. It may sound a little cheesy Sex & The City (when it became the crappy sequel, not the cutting edge late 90s series), but whatever. Cynicism be damned.
What’s not to like? Okay, the wait staff wear stupid uniforms that veer radically towards “wacky” and “themed-restaurant”. Not good. And, if you don’t book, expect a long wait. In the region of 45 minutes mid-week, I dread to think how long on Friday night. But a little forward planning and a willingness to snigger behind your hand as the waiter walks away can solve both those issues. Or you can just eat at the bar if you are so inclined. Who are we to judge, after all?
The Winery is in a weird little spot on Crown Street. If you find Thomas Dux, you’re there. It’s just tucked away, back from the road a little. Well worth a visit. Or two. Or three. Depending on how often you can face a jug ‘o Pimms. For me, well, it would improper to admit. My mother may be reading this after all.
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