“Would you like another drink, sir?” “Can I fill your pretty ceramic bowl with more activated almonds?” “Can I direct you to the bathrooms?” Sometimes (and I mean only occasionally) you don’t want to be mollycoddled like you’re the Queen.
Frankie’s cheesy Italian restaurant serves pizza by the slice (how NYC of them!)
Enter Sydney’s latest American-themed dive bar. The neon-lit “Frankie’s” sign, complete with a picture of a pizza slice, sets the scene. I’m not going to sugar coat it, Frankie’s won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s grungy and dirty-looking, with retro-inspired décor and drinks that are served in plastic cups. So what’s the appeal, I hear you ask? I guess that question can be directed more broadly – what’s the appeal of any dive bar? For me, places like this provide a refuge after a mind-numbing day in the office. You don’t want to be pampered, you just want to escape and given that Frankie’s is open until 4am, you can do just that, well into the wee hours of the morning. And you don’t just come here to drink. Have a game of pinball, wander into the cheesy pizza parlour and order a $5 slice or simply slink into a plush leather booth and nurse a bottle of craft beer (Frankie’s has one of the most impressive lists of craft beer in town).
The team behind Frankie’s Pizza are like bar royalty, they’re the creators of Shady Pines Saloon and Baxter Inn and while Hunter Street may not have a reputation as a drinking destination, the addition of Frankie’s is set to shake things up.
Read more about Frankie’s here
I have felt behind the eight ball in recent months. Keeping up-to-date with restaurant openings and cafes has always been easy, but getting to every new small bar, wine bar, cocktail bar, absinthe bar…. now that has been a struggle. So… I have spent the last month exploring Sydney’s bourgeoning drinking hotspots.
Shady Pines Saloon is quirky and different, whereas Stitch is crowded, but worth putting up with the odd jab in the rib and spilt drink. Mr Cooper’s Wine Bar is sophisticated and elegant, perfect for the Woollahra/ Paddington crowd and Baxter Inn is moody and atmospheric but with an added stiffness that comes from a crowd that is predominantly wearing suits. Bondi Hardware exudes that effortlessly casual chic that one associates with the Campari-sipping, North-Bondi-Italian-eating Eastern Suburbs crowd. But York Lane, tucked away in the heart of the CBD, can be described in three words: Tiny. But. Fabulous.
The well stocked bar at York Lane
The bar doesn’t try too hard. There is no theme, colour scheme or particular design. But… it is certainly not devoid of character. Instead of paintings, bicycles hang on the walls and rather than proper seats, patrons perch on child-sized red and white wooden stools. A chalk board offers cheeky descriptions of drink specials and round copper lights dangerously hang from the ceiling. And unbeknown to many, all the furnishings in this tiny, split-level space are recycled.
An espresso machine pumps out takeaway lattes by day but as the sun sets, York Lane transforms into a licensed restaurant and tapas bar. Small clipboards are handed out with brown recycled paper listing a handful of tapas dishes and drinks, which change daily. Duck pancakes with hoisin sauce are the perfect accompaniment to a crisp pear cider but I eye off another table’s order of pork belly with chilli jam and buffalo wings. I make a mental note to order these next time. Because, yes, there will definitely be a next time at York Lane.
Read more about York Lane here