This is the small bar Newtown never knew it needed.

Sydney’s small bar revolution isn’t really a revolution when you’re in Newtown, where the popularity of places like Corridor hasn’t lessened the demand for an 8am combo of televised sport and Sando Ale. But despite any fundamental change in power structures, it’s still exciting to see semi-classy drinking dens quietly surfacing amongst the older establishments.

The newest of these is the Midnight Special. Nestled between a petrol station and the cluster of African hair salons at the bottom of Enmore Road, this place is just what a Newtown small bar should be. It’s cool but unselfconsciously so, its unassuming facade still inducing locals (me) to press their greasy faces against the glass and gaze longingly at the inviting bar stools during the weeks leading up to opening night.

And for those living outside the 2042 postcode, the Midnight Special is totally worth commuting to Newtown for. Inside it's all Americana, soul and rock ‘n’ roll, from the traditional folk song the place takes its name from to the checkerboard floors. Venture beyond the front room and you’ll find a couple of spacious booths, but for those traveling in packs smaller than four the best option is to plonk yourself right at the bar with a Sierra Nevada ($9.50) or a classic cocktail ($15). Music comes courtesy of '50s, '60s and '70s vinyl, but on any given night expect local DJs to spin anything from Hawaiian war chants to Cleveland protopunk.

The food menu is less varied than the soundtrack but even vegetarians can’t go wrong here if they’ve got a spare fiver. The all-natural, double smoked hot dogs range from the simple, sauce-smothered Dog ($5) to the heftier Smokey Dog ($8.50), which features jalapeno spread, sauerkraut, cheese, tomato sauce, American mustard and chipotle sauce. Any of them are also available as a vege-friendly Not Dog.

This is the small bar Newtown never knew it needed.

Published on May 01, 2012 by Hannah Ongley

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