The Surry Hills pub has undergone a $1.5-million makeover, leaving it with one of Sydney's best beer gardens.
Libby Curran
Published on November 09, 2020
Updated on May 16, 2023


With over six decades under its belt, Surry Hills' The Forresters has quite the watering hole history. While the Foveaux Street site has housed a pub since the 1950s, in recent years you'd be more familiar with its $10 steak nights, value-packed happy hour deals and laidback hangs in those plaid-upholstered booths.

Following an extensive $1.5-million renovation, this Surry Hills stalwart — now officially called Forrester's — has entered a whole new phase of its life under new owners. You'll probably recognise Applejack Hospitality as the group behind CBD newcomer Hester's, though Applejack is also responsible for popular venues including Neutral Bay's SoCal, bar and restaurant Bopp & Tone and Endeavour Tap Rooms in The Rocks. The latest Surry Hills takeover will mark the group's eighth venue.

Forrester's now houses three distinct dining spaces: Phylli's restaurant, a public bar and an upstairs entertainment venue. Unlike the kitschy fit-out of old, Phylli's gives off luxe vibes aplenty. Think heaps of greenery and natural light paired with fresh timber finishes and a botanical mural by Sydney artist Mielo.

The public bar, on the other hand, maintains a bit of that old-time pub feel, with the exposed beams, hardwood floors and tri-folding timber sash windows all kept in tact. Head upstairs and you'll find a third bar and dining space sitting alongside separate booth seating. This area is primed for the venue's weekly trivia and comedy nights.

Yasmin Mund

For eats, patrons can enjoy a menu of snacks and share plates across all three venues. But it's not the classic Aussie pub fare you're used to — apart from that $10 steak special, which will return every Monday night. Instead, Head Chef Jon Barrios and Executive Chef Jason Roberson have created a menu that focuses on flavours from North, Central and South America. Think beef cheek empanadas (422), fried crab cakes ($24) with Creole-style tartare, crispy chicken wings ($18) doused in Louisiana hot sauce and pork belly cubano sandwiches ($24).

In Phylli's, a succinct menu of larger plates is also on offer, and those include the grilled barramundi ($29) topped with a pumpkin mole and the slow-cooked lamb barbacoa ($69) served with freshly made corn tortillas. A few fancy steaks make the menu too, including a $39 wagyu rump and a $34 chargrilled sirloin.

Phylli's also boasts its own dedicated spritz menu (all $18) that will change seasonally. At the moment, varieties include ginger, mandarin, blood orange and mixed berry. Otherwise, the three venues share a menu of classic cocktails with a twist, like the spiced grapefruit margaritas ($18), coconut espresso martinis ($18) and cold brew manhattans ($22).

The public bar also focuses on Aussie craft beer, with local legends GrifterSauce Brewing Co and Willie The Boatman all up for grabs.

Images: Yasmin Mudn


Tap and select Add to Home Screen to access Concrete Playground easily next time. x