Friday, June 10, 2011

Darlinghurst small bars - 13b, Shady Pines Saloon, Pocket

It's the last long weekend for some time and as much as I love the Monday off, I also love the Friday leading into the long weekend.

It's sort of like the last day of school. And not that I need a reason to drink, but a short break is a pretty good one, and here's a few options in Darlo.

Cocktail at 13b, Burton Street, Darlinghurst
I went to 13b one Saturday evening with a Jump on It voucher (I’m slightly addicted to these group buying things), entering a completely packed bar/café/restaurant – not all that hard given the very petite space.

Offered interim seats at the very front of the bar, we actually settled there for the rest of the night. Our voucher entitled us to two share plates of dips and cured meats, and a cocktail each.

I can’t for the life of me remember what my cocktail was – but it probably had gin (I’m on a gin bent at the moment) and pineapple juice, served on ice in a bulbous wine glass, which I rather like.

The 'Amazingly Perfect' cocktail at 13b
My friend’s cocktail featured vodka, sweetened with vanilla sugar, passionfruit and fresh apple, as well as a vanilla sugar rim. It was all too sweet and vanilla-ry for the companion, so we did a mid-way swap as I got my sugar hit on.

Dips and bread plate at 13b
The plates were great for a drinking appetite – lots of toasted, oil-drizzled bread and dips of capsicum, tzatziki-like and an eggplant one.

Cured meats and olives plate at 13b
The cured meats were also fabulous, and quite the cocktail snack too. Salty ham competed with quality prosciutto and salami, and I think I remember us finishing off both plates, including the bowl of salty olives, with un-lady-like speed.

Shady Pines Saloon, Crown Street, Darlinghurst
Very much an ‘it’ place at the moment, head early on Friday or Saturday nights to join the cool kids at Shady Pines Saloon.

Heavily themed, I suppose, Western saloon style, the many animal heads and presumably stuffed creatures may well send the vegetarians running. There are also saddles, aged black and white photos and other “Western” paraphernalia to please, or confuse, the eyes.

White wine at Shady Pines Saloon
Those that manage to get in, stay and find a seat are rewarded with atmosphere by the bucket load, as well as a stout cocktail list, hefty list of beers, and surprisingly even more wines, including four of each white and red by the glass.

My Italian white wine was quite unexpected in taste; light and almost a little sharp – a just a little strange with the bowl of roasted-in-shell peanuts that everyone is entitled to. It looks like the kind of place that you’d just toss peanut shells on the ground, but no-one is doing so and I resist the urge.

Mint Julep at Shady Pines Saloon
I hear the mint julep is their signature cocktail, and pretty as the classic cocktail is, it’s a serious, hard drink of bourbon, a touch of sugar and mint, tonnes of crushed ice and a mint sprig garnish. One sip was enough to send me running to the peanut bowl for a palate cleanser.

Inside Pocket Bar, Burton Street, Darlinghurst
Pocket, next to 13b back on Burton Street, is just as popular through the weeknights too. Pass the melodramatic wrought iron gates to the bar area, or delve further in to find the comfy lounges that beg for long drinking sessions.

Down the Island rum punch at Pocket
With a few larger shared cocktails to share on the new menu, we can’t resist the Down the Island, though the silver salad/dog bowl its presented in is a little unexpected. It’s also way too easy to drink, on the sweet side with limited boozy hit, but lots of pineapple chunks and maraschino cherries to fish out of the bowl.

With ice slowly melting, the drink (designed for 2–4 people) actually lasts quite some time among two chatty girls, hungrily waiting for yet another cured meats plate (different day to above bars though).

Charcuterie plate
When the charcuterie plate did finally arrive (I think our order was forgotten), all was forgiven as the size of the large wooden board and generous contents soothed our hungry minds. The sopressa salami was an immediate favourite, closely followed by the spicy salami next to it.

Charcuterie with mustard fruits and toast
The prosciutto was particularly salty offset by the somewhat boring toasted brown bread, while the aged wagyu beef reminded me of roast beef, but smokier and saltier. The pretty and glossy mustard fruit was an interesting, new flavour for me, but probably not one that’s going to make any favourites lists.

Busy, even on an early Saturday evening, Pocket progressively gets busier as the night goes on, with a great relaxed ambience and no sense of pretension whatsoever.

Happy long weekend drinking!

13b on Urbanspoon

Shady Pines Saloon on Urbanspoon

Pocket on Urbanspoon


hollypop said...

i can't believe i've not been to any of these places yet.
i am such a terrible hipster.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Hubby goes to some of these after work as they're near his workplace. They seem to like Shady Pines quite a bit!

Anonymous said...

LOL on the salad/dog bowl. Not very appealing, huh?

Corinne @ Gourmantic said...

Your post has perfect timing as a group of us are going to one of those this weekend! :)

Dog bowl? That's too funny!

chopinandmysaucepan said...

The drinks and nibblies look good although I'm not quite a cocktail or punch fan except in summer. Pining for your Malaysia tripping post Tina!

Jasmin said...

I love Shady Pines and Pocket Bar, never been to 13b yet, although like you said Shady Pines is a place to be seen and near impossible to get into.

My advancing old age tells me that I really just can't take the drunken shoving and jostling just to get to the bar.

Love the peanuts though and the drinks are sublime.

Pocketbar is a clear winner in my books. Did you have a favourite?

Tina said...

Hi hollypop - There are so many around now, not just Darlo :-)

Hi Lorraine - Shady Pines is just so different to anything in Sydney, it's great.

Hi lateraleating - At least it tasted good ;-)

Hi Corrine - Hope you enjoy it, and the long weekend!

Hi chopinandmysaucepan - There are some fab warming winter cocktails. I'm slowly finishing the travel posts. :-)

Hi Jasmin - Pocket is probably my fave of those, but we went to Shady Pines on a weeknight so it wasn't so bad.

Anonymous said...

Pocket is a hit and miss sometimes, but love shady pines, it feels like you get transported somewhere else :)

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

Love all these small bars, although the only problem is they're so popular they get so busy and noisy very quickly. I like the punch presentation!

Dolly said...

the dipps look nice.. i love eggplant dip!

Julie said...

that's a lot of drinks :P. Would be happy to order the down the island punch :D

Tina said...

Hi minibites - Shady Pines definitely takes you somewhere else :-)

Hi Helen - Yes, but they still beat the big shiny places anyday.

Hi Dolly - Eggplant is one of my faves, for sure.

Hi Julie - They were shared round :-)

sydneycool said...

Tina - this has to be one of the coolest bars in Oz and the place is so relaxed


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