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Bar Fly: Woolpack Hotel

My approach to cooking steak usually involves buying whatever's on special, overcooking it until it resembles old carpet, and then failing to rescue the taste by drowning it in tomato sauce. Since discovering this cool Redfern gastropub, my approach has changed... now I leave it to the professionals at The Woolpack to fulfil my meat cravings with a grilled slab of what I'm convinced is Sydney's best steak.

Food News – Hereford Red Beef

Nutritionist and cattle farmer, James Bjorksten, is producing some of the best grass-fed beef I’ve eaten under the name of Hereford Red Beef. The cream coloured fat is simply magnificent, leading to a super-tasty steak that literally melts in your mouth.

QT Canberra

It’s high time someone was brave enough to have some fun with politicians. From Tony Abbott quotes about election campaigns being “budgie smuggler free zones” in the in-room guide; to crazy past'n'present Prime Minister wallpaper; to press pack paparazzi bursting from the lifts; this hotel takes a youthful, pop-art approach to reflecting its location in our nation’s capital.

The Grand National Hotel

Recently refurbished, The Nash - one-time darling of the Paddo pub scene - is back in business. And it’s already attracting Paddington royalty, with Bruce Pollack spotted in a booth in the low-key front bar.

Casa Ristorante Italiano

“I’d come here for espresso martinis and the chocolate tart,” declares my dining companion at the end of our meal.

Royal Cricketers Arms

Thirty minutes and thirty years from Sydney is a pub where strangers talk to one another, and Bar Manager John Mundy uses common sense and conversation to enforce the rule of law. Over a malty pint of Old Speckled Hen ($11.50) you might enquire after his glass jar of Pickled Eggs ($1.10/each).

Woodland Kitchen & Bar

You met him at Pony Dining, but now Chef Damian Heads is riding his own horse. Taking over the Neutral Bay Pony outpost, he’s created his own remarkably unpretentious bistro, despite the fancy Matthew Darwon fit-out featuring five kilometres of wood!

Le Pub Balmain

As I got stuck into an excellent crusty French-bread take on Sydney’s obsession with miniaturisation - Le Petit Dog ($6) with lamb shoulder, lime labne, green chilli jam and coriander - the ladies at the next table mused: “I guess if I order a Grilled Chicken Salad ($18), I won’t feel so bad about the wine.”

Bar Fly: Bat Country

As a local, the Bar Bloke was keen. He had already done a daytime reconnaissance: “Perfectly cooked egg, crisp bacon, milk roll and good relish.”

Robin Hood Hotel

The Robin Hood Hotel’s distinctive wedge-shaped Art Deco silhouette has long fascinated me on drives through Charing Cross. (If you’re scratching your head, we’re talking about the intersection of Bronte Road and Carrington Road in Waverley.)