Once upon a time in Sydney, the good old steak was where the pub menu began and ended. Not any more. We’re pleased to say pub dining has had a foodie resurgence and these kitchens are now pumping out some of the best nosh in the city. So where do we go for a beer and a plate of comfort food after a long day in the office? Read on for our picks of Sydney’s best pub food.
It’s best-known for its celebrity chef, Colin Fassnidge, but The Four in Hand Dining Room has more going for it than just famous faces. A far cry from your meat and three veg pub kitchen, the restaurant’s bistro-style dining has been given the critics’ nod of approval, with two Chef Hats. Meals can be a little pricey, but you’re guaranteed a perfect dish every time and we reckon that’s worth paying for.
With breathtaking views and boutique beers to boot, the Woolloomooloo Bay Hotel is one of Sydney’s waterfront centrepieces. The bistro is open seven days a week and serves classic Modern Australian pub fare. Great for functions, reserve the courtyard area for a casual gathering or hire out the upstairs heritage-listed function room and balcony for an elegant party overlooking the harbour.
Originally built in 1885, the Woolwich Pier Hotel has long held a special place in the hearts of Sydneysiders. Newly renovated and relaunched, it is now positioned as one of the most beautiful harbour-side hotels in Sydney. This classic heritage property incorporates an upstairs cocktail lounge, restaurant with wrap around balcony with breathtaking harbour views, a sports bar, sensational ground floor bistro and courtyard complete with timber decking and heated bungalows.
Whether you’re a beach bum or not, there’s nothing quite like hopping on a ferry to Manly and spending the afternoon in the sun as the breeze rolls in off the water. Enjoy the quintessential coastal experience at Manly Wharf Hotel; the bar and restaurant opens out onto the jetty and the food is top notch.
Petersham’s most notorious pub, The Oxford Tavern, was once best known for jelly wrestling and pole dancing, but the gentrification of the inner-west has reformed the place. The hot girls have been replaced by a hot barbecue and the Oxford is best-known for its custom outdoor American meat smoker, serving up slow-cooked meat with a variety of sides.
Surry Hills pub The Forresters is home to Queenie’s restaurant and it’s the kind of place where you know, as soon as you set foot in the door, you’re going to have a good time. The eatery is completely decked out in tropical Caribbean kitsch and the menu is just as fun-lovin’, with the likes of jerk chicken, fried plantain chips and giant ribs on offer.
With Chef Justin North at the helm of this Oxford Street favourite, Hotel Centennial has quickly garnered a loyal following of Eastern Suburbanites. The menu is described as “modern comfort food”, with wood fire cooking a speciality. A cool cocktail list gives the beer, wine and spirits menu a kick.
Named after a UK steeple chase, the Grand National Hotel is a Paddington favourite hidden in an historic building in the suburb's backstreets. The front pub area is clean and simple with ample standing room, tall bench seating and bar stools, while the large, sun-dappled back area is set-up for casual dining. Chef Martin Sutedja (ex Ananas and Bistro Ortolan) is fronting the kitchen, putting a modern spin on pub classics.
Standing proudly on the corner of Oxford Street and Jersey Road, The Light Brigade Hotel is an iconic art deco Paddington Woollahra pub. Long regarded as an Eastern Suburbs institution, the Light Brigade Hotel is a great place to catch up with friends for a drink or a bite to eat. The venue is a stone’s throw from Allianz Stadium (Sydney Football Stadium) and Sydney Cricket Ground, Randwick Racecourse and Centennial Park, so come sport and festival seasons, you know you’ve got a perfect spot to be fed and watered.
It may boast that it's been around since 1875, but The London Hotel is thoroughly modern in its decor and on-trend with its food and beverage offerings. The dining room is called the Garden Bar and it's white and bright with long timber tables, pinball machines and big screen televisions. There's a menu of inventive pizzas and protein-driven mains, plus mostly draught beer on tap, with a few upmarket craft labels by the bottle.