This we look into the City East, that includes: Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, and Woolloomooloo to Paddington. Two of the three bars featured this week are within 100m of one another on Darlinghurst Road and Victoria street; a hub of great small bars and eateries, an area definitely worth a night out. The bars of focus this week include The Passage, Button Bar and Eau De Vie.
1. The Passage
231 Victoria Street
The Passage is one of my favourite small bars in Sydney, blending food, drink and music to create a nightspot you can’t miss. While the rest of my friends duck off into Kings Cross, I run the other way, typically to The Passage, only a stones throw away. It is your quintessential small bar (and possibly the narrowest, as the name suggests), something very much straight out of Melbourne. The Passage is the creation of 3 young gentlemen, Edward Loveday, Andrew Emerson and Mark Eggers, each with many years of bar experience under their belt.
The entrance is not too difficult to find, marked by the few drinking and smoking outside. The front of the bar is covered in glass doors, allowing you to look down the entire dark, candle lit length of it.
The Passage is roughly broken up into 4 rooms as you progress through it. The first is the long communal dining table, which many choose to dine at. The second is a mirrored room, lined with marble benches, the third, the main bar opposed by high tops stools, and the final room at the very end, the dance floor and DJ booth, considerably smaller than the rooms before. The crowd is small and groups of friends, many straight from work, come here to wind down (or up).
The Passage has put together an eclectic cocktail list, featuring many ingredients one would not typically find, including maple syrup, roast capsicum and spicy beetroot to name a few. My choice of cocktail, recommended by Mr. Loveday himself, was the The Passage Martini ($15), a Ketel One Vodka martini with Amaro Montenegro, Pineapple and Passionfruit. The aromatic Martini was easy to put down (compliments of the Ketel One) and is followed by a sweet aftertaste of the passionfruit. The spirit list is modest, however Edward prides himself on stocking some rare and interesting spirits to surprise even the most seasoned drinker. The cocktails are complex and well thought out, as is the detailed wine list. They also offer a small range of both domestic and international beers and ciders.
Much alike the large communal table in the front of the The Passage, the food here is sized to share. The sliders ($6 each), all served on brioche, are fantastic, with 3 of them enough to fill you up. Definitely try the meatball and the fillet-o-fish slider (baring no resemblance to the McDonalds burger). The truffle fries with Parmesan ($10), prawn aranchini balls ($10) and Stuffed Zucchini Flowers w/ Goats Cheese & Truffle Honey are also huge hits.
At The Passage, each evening has a theme associated with it. Not themes in terms of fancy dress, but food and drink specials and musical escapades. Monday Night is Magnum Mondays, which involves $10 steak frites and magnums of beer and wine. Tuesday night is Cheap Eats, which is 50% off all food when seated by 8pm. Wednesday Night, is Midtown and sliders & ciders, a personal favourite, with $4 sliders, $5 ciders, $5 gin and vodka, accompanied by deep disco from a selection international and domestic DJ acts. Thursday night is The Gin Club, as the name suggests, there are $5 Tanqueray’s, $10 Tanqueray martinis, $5 lobster rolls and a free Tanqueray on arrival, just remember to get there early. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are all $10 lunch specials.
Slider of the Week: The Chicken Katsu Slider. Complete with a mini cup of Miso Soup
While the passage can sometimes get loud and busy – often on a Thursday night, the drinks, food and atmosphere come together to create an ideal place to head to after work, and to stay until dawn.
Go if: You like simple, delicious food and great music
Stay at home if: You’re deathly afraid of hipsters