Newtown can't get enough of its small bars and Gurdys does not disappoint on this front. Opened by husband and wife team Brett and Clare Davis back in June 2017, it has become one of our King Street go-tos.
The Davis' hospo experience speaks for itself, having spent a combined 35 years working for hospitality giants Merivale and Solotel. They're joined by another Solotel alum, head chef Richard Price, who is turning out a menu that is carefully designed to cater for many dietary needs.
Each dish is denoted by dietary requirement — allowing meat eaters, vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free folk to eat without question. The menu is all about sharing, apart from the burgers, which go beyond your standard beef patty to include Malaysian-style fried chicken with sambal aioli, and portobello mushroom with caramelised onion versions, plus a vegan hot dog using Suzy Spoon's sausages ($16.5 each with chips).
Other standouts include a spicy lamb kofta on Spanish pilaf ($22), tempura mushroom bao buns with barbecue sauce ($16), garlic and chilli prawns ($23) and miso-glazed baby eggplant ($14).
The wine and cocktail lists are also labelled for vegans, with the latter mixing up classics using using house-made syrups. Espresso martinis and pisco sours ($20 each) sit alongside signatures like the Spiced Apple Crisp (spiced rum, ginger syrup, apple juice and lime) and the French negroni (ruby red grapefruit liqueur, gin and bianco vermouth). The bar is also slinging $10 bloody marys using a house-blend of fresh chillies.
During winter, there's mulled wine for $8 and hot buttered rum for $12. As the warm weather settles in, expect more tequila-based cocktails, spritzes and one-litre share drinks to appear on the menu. The four beer taps change weekly with a focus on Aussie crafts, and the wine list also has strong local ties.
It's a wine-by-the-glass-only affair here (apart from French Champagnes), with drops starting from $9. Two wines are also offered on tap — to reduce bottle waste — and, at the moment, it's R!ot wines' minimal-preservative rosè and a grenache/tempranillo blend, which you can get by the glass or in carafe form ($9–45).
This underlying message of sustainability goes deeper than kegged wines, too. There are no plastic straws served at the bar, and those left behind when the Davis' took over were given to the ABC's War on Waste. The bar and kitchen also work closely together to minimise waste where possible. The Gurdys fit-out follows suit, having used recycled materials throughout — including the timber, metal screens and window frames that have all been salvaged from a demo yard and give a rustic feel to the intimate space.
For the frugal, Gurdys has specials on throughout the week, including any three share dishes for $30 on Tuesdays, $10 burgers on Wednesdays and $10 bartenders-choice cocktails on Thursdays.
Next up, the Gurdys team is set to restore Erskineville's bygone stalwart the Swanson Hotel to its former glory as the Kurrajong. If all goes well with council, we'll be bringing you updates on that next project soon.