Fix St James
111 Elizabeth Street, Sydney, 2000 – (02) 9232 2767
I try not to drink in the city but seem to find myself in Fix St James more than the rest of Sydney’s wine bars combined. There are some great sommeliers in Sydney and owner Stuart Knox with his signature red shoes is easily the most fun to be around. Fix is a bar and restaurant with some great food and a reputation for “natural” wines. Stu has become the go-to man for this style of minimal intervention wine, although I get the feeling that a large number of these wines hit his list simply because they taste interesting and exciting, rather than conforming to any particular philosophy. Most of the front of house team have been with Stu for a long time and share his passion for great “juice.” They ask what you are looking for and are able to recommend the perfect wine after just a couple of descriptors. There are a lot of wine events held at Fix during the year, the wine dinners are always great value. If you love interesting wines, great food and great service and are in the city, I’d recommend Fix St James.
417 Crown St, Surry Hills, 2010 – (02) 9319 6609
As small bars go, Yulli’s in Surry Hills is one of the most comfortable. It’s quite a surprise that a vegetarian restaurant has such a great line up of independent NSW beers but it’s great to see. They recently added an upstairs area which makes it much easier if you just want to sit and have a beer. In an interesting green initiative none of the products upstairs are bottled – there are 8 local draft beers along with draft NSW wine and local post mix soft drinks. It’s a great idea though I’m not too sure about the draft wine. Watch out as upstairs isn’t open every night which means that only four draft beers (along with lots of bottles) are available most weeknights and the more exciting (lower selling) beers don’t turnover as quickly as you would like. I’m not a vegetarian by a long shot but the food is also well worth searching out.
The Union Hotel
576 King Street, Newtown, 2042 – (02) 9557 2989
The Union is a rare beast in Sydney, a pub that has given almost all of it’s taps over to independent beers. I’ve been heading there for years now, it’s not too far from home and I’ve always enjoyed the food. They have been constantly but slowly improving the pub, first with a full refurb of the back bar into a very comfortable bistro area with a small beer garden, then introducing more and more good beers and recently new carpet in the front bar. I’ll always remember the week when smoking was banned in Sydney’s pubs. I walked into the front bar of the Union and all I could small was stale beer in the carpet instead of having smoke hiding the stench. They also installed a couple of English style handpumps for beer to serve real ales, mainly from the very local Young Henrys brewery. The bistro offers great value meals and the specials are restaurant quality, all washed down with great beer. Well worth visiting