Another notch in the belt for Sydney’s expanding pub gentrification with Erskineville’s former Kurrajong Hotel being refitted and re-imagined British West Indies-style. Not that I’m complaining, Balmain Pub Group – who also own The Riverview and The Balmain Hotel – do good work; opening their public houses up to a wider range of people. Start in the first floor cocktail bar where a caramel smear makes the Espresso Martini ($18) rather special. Move to a table in the long 80-seater restaurant to investigate Executive Chef Brad Sloane’s menu. It reads like home cooking but has a technical edge you’ll appreciate, starting with pungent piccalilli accompanying a rustic Pork Terrine ($16). Sloane’s Beef Tartare ($16) is well balanced and served with smoky bread. If you’re having trouble picking, both dishes feature on the Tasting Plate for Two ($30) alongside Merimbula oysters and a pretty kingfish carpaccio. The hero of the menu is the Char-grilled Spatchcock ($26), served on a fighting combination of Brussels sprouts, bacon, lentils and chilli. It’s a perfect match for the 2012 Howard Park Flint Rock Chardonnay ($15/glass), while the small-run 2013 Amato Vino Vermentino ($12/glass) best accompanies the Herb Gnocchi ($22) made vividly green by peas, asparagus and spinach. And pub desserts rarely scrub up as pretty as The Swanson’s Crème Catalan ($13).
106-108 Swanson Street, Erskineville
Ph: (02) 9519 3609 swansonhotel.com.au
Pub Bistro $$$