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Best of Sydney

Best Pubs

Best Pub with a View: The Watershed Hotel *Editorial Pick*
As you drink on the glittering edge of Darling Harbour at The Watershed Hotel, you’d be forgiven for wondering what the poor folk are doing. This is another well-run watering hole, managed by the J & J O’Brien group who bring you quality venues like Jackson’s on George, Jordan’s Seafood Restaurant, and Newtown’s popular Marlborough Hotel. But if you were going to pick just on location, it’s off to The Watershed for sure! Snack on one of their amazing tasting plates!
198 Harbourside, Darling Harbour (02) 9282 9444 www.thewatershedhotel.com.au JM

Best Smoke-Friendly Beer Garden:
Golden Sheaf Double Bay *READER PICK*
Metallic-coloured prophylactic jokes aside, the Sheaf delivers with good quality meals, delicious cocktails and fabulous live entertainment every night of the week. Luckily the beer-garden was unaffected by a recent fire, so you can still enjoy a ciggie in the cosmopolitan ambience of the outdoor area. A great place to meet up with friends for an after work drink or a long, liquid lunch.
429 New South Head Road, Double Bay (02) 9327 5877 www.goldensheaf.com.au STM

Best Romantic Fireplace: Lord Dudley *READER PICK*
I am yet to see a fireplace that I didn’t find romantic but the one at the Lord Dudley hotel scorches all others in terms of design, ambience and décor. One could imagine Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliffe locked in a tryst, or the Bronte sisters chatting around such a hearth. Truly, an unmissable part of the Eastern suburbs and a must-see spot if you are looking for a place to pop the question to your partner. Otherwise why not try out the well-priced meals or mingle in the Dudley Lounge’ The Dud is a classic ‘ye olde’ style experience attracting a wildly eclectic and friendly clientele.
236 Jersey Road, Woollahra (02) 9327 5399 www.lorddudley.com.au STM

Best Toilet: The Argyle *READER PICK*
The seemingly-dubious honour of being voted the city’s best toilet is actually not one to be sneezed at. After all, some of the stunning interior design makeovers by top architects and decorators render many restrooms as veritable works of art. The heritage building known as ‘The Argyle Stores’ by The Rocks received such a transformation and has never looked back. Now the space boasts several bars, a lounge area, courtyard and fantastic $10 lunch specials. The luxuriant space and cannily innovative styling in the bathroom areas have to be seen to be believed. Book a function, private party or just pop in and check out the evening cocktail scene ‘ you won’t be disappointed.
18 Argyle Street, Sydney (02) 9247 5500 www.theargyle.biz STM

Best Pub Bistro: Bistro Moncur *READER PICK*
Woollahra’s tree-lined streets and trendy shops all lead to one place when you’re starving and hanging out for a fabulous, slap-up pub bistro meal. Not only does the venue have time on its side, as the Woollahra hotel was the first heritage Australian pub to be made-over into a flash restaurant, but it’s a fact that Bistro Moncur constantly aces gazillions of food and beverage competitions. Example’ As a frequent winner of the Restaurant and Catering Association’s ‘Awards for Excellence’ and as the darling of the SMH’s ‘Good Food Awards’, Bistro Moncur consistently comes up trumps. Of course even more esteemed publications (such as ours) are giving the bistro the double-thumbs-up yet again. Why’ Basically when you visit the bistro (which itself opened back in ’93) the first thing you’ll notice is the fabulous, warm welcome from the staff and the clean, light and airy interior. The modern Australian and French menu ‘ headed up by executive chef Damien Pignolet – has a little something for everyone, with a range of boutique wines and beers to wash it all down.
The Woollahra Hotel, 116 Queen Street, Woollahra (02) 9363 2519 www.bistromoncur.com.au STM

Best Gay Pick Up Joint: Midnight Shift *READER PICK*
At the super-hot age of 27, the Midnight Shift goes from strength to strength as THE best gay pick up joint in town. The Shift’s glitzy-yet-down-to-earth vibe and awesome drag and variety shows make it a steady, reliably hot and entertaining place to get trashed, pick up some trade, get off immediately, and do it all again the following night. Can’t pick up’ Mojo not working tonight’ Fear not. The Shift’s waiters provide all the eye candy you need to get you through while mixing mind-blowing cocktails as thumping tracks provide the aural backdrop to your night on the tiles.
85 Oxford St, Darlinghurst (02) 9360 4319 www.themidnightshift.com STM

Best Straight Pickup Joint: The Ivy *READER PICK*
Wunderkind Justin Hemmes’ wish was to ‘create a fantasy world’ where patrons could indulge themselves and live it up. The Ivy fits the bill, being not simply a bar, but a ‘realm’ comprising several bars, restaurants, lounges with comfy velvet armchairs and small garden areas. Go to see and be seen, as inner city denizens prowl from midday til very late sipping Mojitos and snacking on Teppanyaki. Sex in the City’ We think so! See you there.
320-330 George Street, Sydney (02) 9240 3000 www.merivale.com STM

Best Live Music Venue – Jazz: The Basement *READER PICK*
The most renowned jazz venue in town is The Basement for several reasons. Firstly, it’s a venue presenting live music six or sometimes seven nights a week and secondly, The Basement have been in the biz for over thirty years! Take in a top live act in the swanky lounge area or grab dinner and show tickets for a reasonable price. Herbie Hancock, Prince, Marcia Hines and Keith Urban have all featured at The Basement over the years and this September, catch the ‘Alicia Keys and Lennie Kravitz Tribute Show’ or swing by for a night with ‘Jon English with special guests Jonah’s Road’.
29 Reiby Place, Circular Quay (02) 9251 2797 www.thebasement.com.au STM

Best Live Music Venue – Rock: Annandale Hotel *READER PICK*
‘Fuck this; I’m going to the Annandale’ is the pubs slogan which quite simply, sums it up. Basically, if all else fails and your plans at other try-hard locations go awry, you can always just jump in a cab, kebab in hand, and rely on the Annandale to make sure any night ends on a good rockin’ note. Long known as THE best place to hit on a wanna-be rockstar for a good old fashioned Saturday night rock-shag on the way home, the pub also boasts an outstanding record as the place to catch awesome live acts. That means rock and roll acts, you creep! But still’Peter Morris and later, brothers Matthew and Daniel Rule are credited for bringing the pub to life with a slew of mind-blowing performers and rescuing the bar from becoming a permanent pokie-shrine. Where else would you be able to see bands ranging from 78 Saab, to John Butler, Machine Gun Fellatio, Rose Tattoo, The Vines, Jet, The Living End, to the Dandy Warhols and Shihad’the list goes on to include a startling list of overseas acts such as Peaches, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and my personal favourite, Nashville Pussy’ Incredible. Put that kebab down and upgrade to a ‘Wok and Roll’ snack at the Annandale ‘ rock n roll satisfaction guaranteed.
17 Parramatta Road, Annandale (02) 9550 1078 www.annandalehotel.com STM

Best Live Music Venue – Folk: The Harp *READER PICK*
Just when you thought the city had been taken over by dance music, a visit to The Harp will assure you that folk is alive and strumming over in Tempe. Fans of emotional singer/songwriters and their ilk will thrall to The Harp’s weekly line-up of sincere performers, including high calibre acts such as Eric Bogle, Bernie Hayes, Stella One Eleven and Andy Irvine. To be sure, a sweeter Irish-style bar would be hard to find. A free function room, bistro, a new deck and a big screen for sports events complete the charming scene at The Harp.
900 Princes Highway, Tempe (02) 9559 6300 www.theharp.com.au STM

Best Live Music Venue – International/World: Oxford Art Factory *READER PICK*
Oxford Art Factory is home to a dazzlingly eclectic array of music and art events. Performers such as Zombie Ghost Train, Rocket to Memphis, Kaki King, and a photography show titled ‘Sao Paolo, New York, Japan,’ are just some of the offerings from OAF during its wildly successful first year of operation. There’s basically something for everyone at this venue with the recent inclusion of events for the under-18s crew. So be watching for another year of top live acts at the Factory as Grafton Primary and Yeasayer are just a few other upcoming international and local acts definitely worth a look.
38-46 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst (02) 9332 3711 www.oxfordartfactory.com STM

Best Dance Venue: Ruby Rabbit *READER PICK*
Glitzy renovations with wall to wall style are key to the atmosphere at Ruby Rabbit. The plush Bohemian-glam décor of the ‘De Nom’ level lends itself extremely well to current events such as Rachel St James’ burlesque-inspired tease-tuition evenings, where you can learn classic moves a la Dita Von Teese. Faux gold-leaf Louis XIV furniture and flock wallpaper are the ideal backdrop to such shenanigans while on other nights top DJs such as DJ Sveta (see Best DJ) and the ‘Disco not Disco’ team provide regular entertainment. The venue can provide full catering and management are open to suggestions from potential exhibitors of photography and art, so why not get in touch and get famous at the Rabbit’
231 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst (02) 9332 3197 www.rubyrabbit.com.au STM

Best Sports Bar: Harlequin Inn *READER PICK*
A down-to-earth bar with a winning combination of daily sportscasts and good old fashioned stodgy bar food makes the Harlequin Inn something of a well-kept secret. Well-heeled Channel 10 staffers mix it with local barflies and die hard sports fans, some of whom use the bar as their base from which to cheer on their game-viewing. The walls are festooned with sports knick-knacks such as trophies and medals adding to that ‘bar of champions’ feeling. Get together with friends or drop in on your Pat Malone for a modern Australian/Thai meal and an imported or boutique beer.
152 Harris St, Pyrmont (02) 9660 8146 www.harlequininn.com.au STM

Best Trivia Night: Bronte RSL *READER PICK*
Thursday night trivia fans need look no further than the Bronte RSL for a top evening of hilarious entertainment and seriously good prizes. Hosted by Peter Jenkins and Marto (from the Merrick and Rosso comedy programme) the Bronte RSL comes alive with one-liners and tricky questions, challenging each team to excel. Another drawcard is that the event is completely free so you’ve got nothing to lose! Why not start the night at the RSL’s Chumpy Rump Bistro for a slap-up pub style meal then get set for trivia from 8pm sharp’ Just a few minutes walk from the beach and close to public transport, this is a trivia night not to be missed.
113 Macpherson Street, Waverley (02) 9389 7544 www.brontersl.com.au STM

Best Nightclub: The Gaff *READER PICK*
When it comes to a nightclub with variety, we can see why Arq was a real contender, with top of the line acoustic space for some of Sydney’s hottest DJs such as Sandi Hotrod, Pete Farris and Jimmy Dee. But the final count revealed you all prefer to spend your clubbing dollars at The Gaff. With the underground club space’s evocatively lit sandstone walls; we can see why our readers enjoy propping up the bar. Home to one of Sydney’s more notorious club nights, The Hellfire Club, The Gaff is open to outside hires, and management have a queer friendly attitude. They also do decent grub upstairs, with outdoor tables that get very popular in summer!
Cnr Oxford and Riley Streets, Darlinghurst (02) 9380 9244 www.thegaff.com.au JM

Best Pokie Free Pub: East Village *READER PICK*
East Village is entrenched in the memory of many a Sydney partygoer as THE best venue for a private function or product launch in the swanky Manhattan Rooftop area, or as somewhere to pick up a hot graphic designer type in the downstairs bar…sans pokies! The venue actually has a choice of four areas in which to let your hair down plus onsite catering available if you so desire. Stop by for free canapés and tunes by DJ Richie Valens on a Thursday, or zoom in for $5 fish and chips after work on Mondays. Depressed’ Don’t miss Tuesday night comedy for a good old fashioned laugh. Overall this charming period-decor bar is a place with the lot.
234 Palmer Street, East Sydney (02) 9331 5457 www.eastvillage.com.au STM

Best Pokie Palace: Star City Casino *READER PICK*
If you fancy yourself as a Kenny Rogers ‘gambler’ kind of guy, or as a Bond-girl dangling dangerous cleavage over the roulette wheel, why not drop in to Star City to give it a whirl’ Serious gamblers need no introduction to this particular pokie palace ‘ in fact gambling addicts can find help via the website’s directory to counselling phone lines. Lighten up at the Casino’s entertainment selection including ‘Priscilla ‘ Queen of the Desert,’ the ‘Rocky Horror Show,’ James Morrison jazz spectaculars and more. Five star accommodation, top restaurants and superlative customer service ‘ this is an experience that must been seen to be believed.
80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont (02) 9777 9000 www.starhotelcasino.com.au STM

Best Local Pub: Nag’s Head *READER PICK*
Built way back in the 1860s, the Nag’s Head Hotel was originally called the ‘Town Hall Hotel,’ being super close to that part of Glebe. A makeover in 1986 saw the bar become something of a funky cross between Terry’s favourite bar on ‘Minder’ and the warm, welcoming bar on ‘Cheers.’ Monday nights pop in for $10 pizza or swing by for free pool all day Sunday. Check out the well-priced, delicious treats in the brasserie before battling it out for great prizes in the trivia nights.
162 St John’s Road, Glebe (02) 9660 1591 www.nagshead.com.au STM

Best Pub Off the Beaten Path: Ocean Beach Hotel *EDITORIAL PICK*
Feel like a short country drive to get out of the hustle and bustle for a while’ The Ocean Beach Hotel in Shellharbour is close to the Illawarra suburbs of Kiama, Jervis Bay and of course Shellharbour itself. Actually Kiama has quite a reputation for being the classic ‘weekend away with your new hot lover’ town, so why not swing by the Ocean Beach Hotel to grab a bite and a beer to keep up that much-needed stamina’ The hotel was established on its current site in 1929 but has been part of the fabric of the township for even longer (beer being the main food-group of early settlers in the area). The other major drawcard is its award-winning seafood menu and genuinely awesome entertainment line-ups. The bar is open for lunch and dinner so you can take advantage of one of the best views of the Wollongong area with your lover while you muse about which country stroll to take next or indeed, which songs to sing at the bar’s karaoke spectaculars every Thursday and Sunday evenings. Of course, you can also mosh on Friday nights to the area’s best local bands before retiring to your lair.
2 Addison St, Shellharbour (02) 4296 1399 www.oceanbeachhotel.com.au STM