Sydney was almost there with Stitch. But the latest addition to Wentworth Ave brings a real slice of New York City to Surry Hills: The Soda Factory, in the old home of Tone nightclub, is our first bar to be hidden behind a fully functioning business.
Owner Graham Cordery (Experience Entertainment)’s first thought was to have the place concealed by an NY-style pizza joint. Frankie’s got there first, so what you’re looking for instead is a kitschy neon sign reading ‘Bobby’s Boss Dogs’. Bobby’s draws the comparison to New York’s Crif Dogs, the entrance to clandestine East Village cocktail lounge PDT, and lives up to the latter’s reputation. For just $9, the Johnny Drama (beef sausage topped with bacon, sour cream, avocado and tomato salsa) straddles the line between gourmet and good old-fashioned grub.
The only thing fake in Bobby’s is the Coke machine. Pull on the handle and you’re inside The Soda Factory – a dimly lit industrial expanse lined with inviting booths and comfy mid-century sofas. Mitchell Warters of Richard Branson’s members-only Rooftop Gardens in London is in charge of the drinks menu, so cocktails are the name of the game. In keeping with the factory theme there are boozy root beer floats ($14) and share siphons ($30 - $35) for groups, which will get you five or six sparkling old school cocktails plus some great Instagram opportunities. And for those who can’t stomach the idea of alcohol and ice cream, the Chocolate Passionfruit Martinis ($17) is a potent blend of rich liquor with just a hint of sweetness that won’t leave you wondering where your money went.
The Soda Factory’s other draw card is music. So far Cordery and his business partner Michael Chase have roped in some rather heavy-hitting acts (including the legendary Grandmaster Flash) and Electric Empire, but sound levels allow for both dancing and engaging in just-audible conversation. On school nights smaller bands play acoustic sets and local DJ's spin '50s rock 'n' roll.
With a little grubbying up of the interior and a few smart additions to the food menu (Chase is trained chef from a family of food-loving Italians and plans to roll out a ‘50s-inspired share plate menu), The Soda Factory should really be able to make the most of its late-night trading license. As it stands the weekly specials are worth cabbing it for, with Tuesdays offering $1 dogs and Wednesdays featuring a $5 menu of carb-laden snacks inspired by Tarantino films. Whether you kick on here or elsewhere, there are few better ways to start a night off.