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FOOD & DRINK

Seven Sydney Pubs with Menus That Go Beyond Standard Counter Meals

Find elegant plates and creative reinventions of classic pub grub at these gastronomic go-tos.
By Olivia Gee
August 04, 2021
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By Olivia Gee
August 04, 2021
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in partnership with

Greater Sydney is currently under stay at home orders so, while you can't visit these pubs in person, you can still show your support with takeaway and online orders. You can stay up to date with the developing COVID-19 situation in Sydney, as well as current restrictions, at NSW Health.

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Whether we're having them delivered or enjoying them at the pub, chicken schnitties and pot pies will always hold a special place in our hearts. But sometimes, after a few beers at your local, you work up an appetite for something beyond traditional pub grub. Luckily, Sydney's pub scene is humming with venues dishing up more imaginative meals — and you can even get some of them delivered, too.

We've teamed up with Guinness to highlight seven Sydney pubs to head to — once current venue restrictions lift, of course — when you're looking for flare in your pub fare. Add these these top-notch local watering holes to your future hit list, so you can tuck into the likes of harissa-spiced lamb scotch eggs, dip honeycomb and bread into melted camembert or devour a vegan Sunday roast.

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Trent van der Jagt

RAG & FAMISH HOTEL

North Sydney's oldest pub dishes up popular winter warmers as if they've been doing it for centuries (which they have, by the way). This multi-level joint offers restaurant and bistro dining, so you can match your meal with your occasion. Head to the upstairs eatery and satisfy big (and carnivorous) appetites with Moroccan-style lamb backstrap, 'drunken' pork belly with miso butternut pumpkin mash and the beef brisket served with a wild mushroom medley, confit garlic, potato, kale and red wine jus. You won't be disappointed downstairs, either, thanks to shareable bites like the pumpkin and sage arancini and baked camembert served with sourdough and honeycomb. Of course, counter classics are still available at this Miller Street mainstay, with food specials on offer throughout the week alongside trivia and footy viewing nights.

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Saltwater Images

CHARING CROSS HOTEL

Bronte's beloved Charo keeps diners on their toes with an amazingly diverse menu. Order extras for the table like the seven-spice squid topped with yuzu and coriander or pork croquettes with spiced pear chutney. And if you've never had a savoury pithivier, tick it off your bucket list here. This iteration of the round puff pastry pie is filled with potato, King Island smoked cheese, caramelised onion and truffle sauce — it's basically an oozing molten cheese mountain that will tempt any fromage fanatic. There are also five different Sunday roast options on the table to satisfy pub traditionalists, from a pasture-fed roast sirloin with veg and Yorkshire pud to the vegan roast of miso-glazed Japanese pumpkin with sage and onion stuffing, served with hazelnut granola and roast veggies.

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Arvin Prem Kumar

THE ROYAL LEICHHARDT

Watch fiery sunsets over the inner west from the leafy balcony of The Royal. Downstairs has abundant old-school public house charm, but as you ascend the stairs, you'll find dazzling dining areas with a distinctly botanical theme. No matter where you set yourself up, though, you'll be treated to a great menu which serves vegetarian and vegan punters well. The bright green pappardelle is served with peas, basil, spinach, lemon oil and a sprinkling of parmesan and pangrattato, while the lasagne forgoes beef for ricotta and spinach interspersed with roasted tomato sauce and pesto. Those craving meat should turn to the twice-cooked pork belly served on a bed of caramelised apple and accompanied by fried brussels sprouts with dill, parsley and hazelnuts.

The Royal Leichhardt's bottle shop, Royal Liquor, is open daily from 12pm. Drop in to pick up wine, growlers and fresh flowers.

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BANKSIA HOTEL

While it's not-exactly-glamorous location might make you think this Princes Highway spot is just another roadside pub, you'd be doing your inner foodie a disservice if you didn't stop in for a feed. With a menu overseen by pub food maestro Colin Fassnidge, the on-site Banksia Bistro plates up elevated pub fare in a slick, modern Scandi-like setting. Of course, you can expect classics like beer-battered fish and chips, chicken schnitzel, porchetta. But followers of Fassnidge will recognise his influence and Irish heritage in dishes like meatloaf with colcannon and egg, cheese and black pudding croquettes and suckling pig sausage roll with spiced apple butter.

Banksia Bistro is offering takeaway food, tap beer and cocktails from 4–8pm, Thursday–Sunday.   

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THE RIVERVIEW

If the bright red doors, window flower boxes and glowing fireplace don't draw you into this Balmain pub, then the Sunday roast surely will. The popular beef roast comes adorned with baked veggies, seeded mustard jus and a fluffy Yorkshire pudding, which you'll be dreaming about in your post-roast nap. In the sophisticated upstairs Birchgrove Restaurant, the prawn linguini will warm you up with its hit of chilli, cherry tomatoes, capers and fresh basil, while the steak and Guinness pie, served with creamy mash and honeyed carrots, raises the benchmark for baked parcels of goodness. Beers on tap move from trendy IPAs to dark Irish brews, if your vibe is to also imbibe.

Food is available to order online here, from 5–8:30pm, Monday–Saturday.

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THE TRINITY

Settle in among bookshelves piled high with old tomes and pre-war sports paraphernalia in this Surry Hills hangout. While the vibes in the sports bar and covered beer garden are as chill as can be, perusing the menu at The Trinity is a culinary rollercoaster. The ride starts with pub classics like schnitzels and burgers, then twists dramatically to bowls of teriyaki jackfruit paired with shiitake mushroom, seaweed rice, edamame and pickled vegetables. Share plates provide further excitement with the likes of coconut, chill and citrus-spiced mussels, plus an oh-so-creamy macaroni bake of cauliflower, potato, spinach and artichoke. For a funky finishing touch, order a house cocktail like the Hard Nut to Crack, which blends gin with a liquid marzipan-style pistachio orgeat topped with sweet peaks of aquafaba.

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Arvin Prem Kumar

AUSTRALIAN ARMS HOTEL

The modern Aussie cuisine being served up inside this historic Penrith pub is a delightfully contemporary contrast to the building's art deco exterior. The Birdhouse Kitchen & Cafe manages the food here, which starts with lunch classics like fish and chips and parmies, and then elevates to dinner dishes like wagyu flank sizzling in marrow and jus beside a potato and fennel gratin. But it's the desserts that'll keep snap-happy Instagrammers busy. The old classic of strawberries and cream gets a complete makeover here, and features rose gel-glazed berries balanced on toasted brioche and ice cream, and layered with a fine Persian floss for fabulous effect.

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Thirsty? Find your closest place for a pint over at the Guinness Pub Finder.

Top image: The Trinity

Published on August 04, 2021 by Olivia Gee

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