One of Bar Zine’s trusted wingmen happens to be of the gay persuasion, which has its pros and cons. The biggest pro is that I can rely on him to never cockblock me because of an interest in the same girl, but a con is that he’s been known to deliberately scare women away whenever he’s disgruntled, which often happens when he’s away from his beloved Oxford Street.
Tonight Bar Zine is keen to try out North Sydney’s Firehouse and when my gay wingman complains (let’s call him GW from now on) I tell him there may be burly firemen still lurking around in the hope that will coax him. He doesn’t believe me but, at 9pm on a Friday night, he needs to kill some time anyway before Oxford Street hots up.
When we turn up we find North Sydney in general is on the quiet side, making us wonder if the six o’clock swill is still in force on this side of the bridge. The ground floor of the Firehouse, which is located in a heritage-listed ex-fire station, is spacious and attractive, with good use of recycled wood – and it’s also largely empty. Upstairs, however, is another matter.
The second floor is divided into a cocktail bar with lounge seating, a separate section filled with more lounges (which the bar calls “lipstick-coloured”) and tables as well as a large courtyard that’s crowded with people drinking and smoking.
The clientele is mixed, with office workers in suits (ties loosened and shirts hanging out) and guys in polo shirts and sneakers, with neighbouring office buildings forming the backdrop and background music quiet enough for conversation.
When we order our cocktails the staff give us a quizzical look, making us wonder if we’re making a huge mistake – especially as we can’t see anyone else drinking cocktails – but we turn out to be impressed. The berry caipiroska (vodka, muddled limes, sugar and berry pulp, $14) is excellent and despite the name is more green than red, with the berry pulp adding to rather than dominating the flavour. The mojito (muddles limes, rum and sugar,$14) is almost as good.
The cocktail menu here targets those with a sweet tooth and almost all the drinks contain either berries, passionfruit, pineapple juice or lime, with the exception of the Chocolate Fireman (butterscotch schnapps, Frangelico, Baileys and Kahlua blended with milk, cream and chocolate sauce). The next time I come I’ll bring a female wingwoman with a chocolate craving to try that one out.
The food is typical pub fare: dishes include fish and chips ($15), salt and pepper calamari ($16), T-bone steak ($18) and chicken schnitzel ($14), as well as gourmet pizzas (ranging from $13). The GW, however, is itching to move on and so unfortunately we leave after one round. Hopefully whichever wingwoman I bring with me next time will have more of an appetite.
Firehouse, 86 Walker Street, North Sydney. Phone 02 8904 9696 or see the Firehouse website
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate Firehouse?