There isn’t a trace of the unwashed artist, student or dole bludger in Surry Hills anymore. I say this from my vantage point at a table in Rosie Campbell's on a Thursday night (on the corner of Crown and Campbell street, in case you hadn’t figured it out).
The idea of Rosie’s is to bring a bit of Jamaica via New York to 2010, but despite the cute fit-out, what you notice at Rosie’s is that the clientele comprises solely of Surry Hills' new white collar residents, the types who aren’t complaining too much about the current real estate prices. Instead, they’re sipping on cocktails that seriously nudge a lobster, cooling out to good reggae and hip hop, and getting stuck into some excellent jerk chicken, made with the venue's amply used signature jerk sauce.
The venue is the latest from Graham Cordery and The Experience Group, who's other Surry Hills venue, The Soda Factory, has become a solid staple with a passionate following that come for more than just the famous Tuesday Dollar Dawgs. Following a rather life-changing trip to Jamaica, Cordery was inspired to bring home what he loved about the country: "the contrasting bright colours [and] the vibrancy that really makes you feel alive”.
The dishes on offer centre around three main flavour groupings, all of which are executed nicely. Deceptively smooth cocktails, like the Montego Bay Punch (of Pampero white and dark rums, Don Julio Plata tequila, pineapple, papaya, rockmelon, sugarcane and almond, $19), as well as a moorish Bowl of Corn with jerk mayo ($8), highlight the sweet and coconutty. A beautifully bright snapper ceviche ($20) and a mango-studded Island Jerk Salad ($16) are fresh and herbal, while the ribs ($19), sweet potato fries ($8) and that wondrous jerk chicken ($18) fill the gap with plenty of warmth and spice.
Holding onto your crowd for dessert on Crown Street will always be a challenge with you-know-who just a few steps down the road, but Rosie’s presents a good case for staying in with the offer of a warm caramel rum cake ($14). You might be in Surry Hills, but as the final sip of that rum-spiked punch hits you while you have a spoonful of caramel-soaked cake in your mouth, you could, maybe, just be soaking up the rays someplace warmer.