Update: The Pond’s time as a pop up bar for Pure Blonde is over – but it’s not the end of the venue. It’s now reopened as The Commons – Local Eating House and the downstairs area is called Downtown – click here to see the Downtown review.
Pop-up bars (temporary drinking holes only open for a limited time) have been appearing around the world lately and The Pond is the latest to make a splash in Sydney.
Created from the ruins of a sandstone heritage cottage built in 1850 that was later an Italian restaurant, The Pond claims that it’s about “turning an unused piece of land into something a little more pure” and to recycle whenever possible. The carpets and timber are apparently reclaimed, the plants are rescued and the lighting is energy efficient.
The atmosphere here is … well, one of my dining companions says it feels like a grandmother’s house, thanks to the sandstone walls, wooden floor boards, timber tables and overall retro feel (right down to the old turntable in the downstairs bar). In fact, she says it even smells like a grandmother’s place, but I think she means that in a good way.
It’s certainly more homely than slick. The main dining area has large tables that can be shared and if you want a space then you should come early since there aren’t any bookings. The courtyard downstairs is small but cosy (and dominated by a Jacaranda tree) and my favourite area is the bar, which does feel like grandma’s basement (albeit one that has a lamp made out of a surveyor’s tripod).
Since the bar is sponsored by Pure Blonde I decide to go with the rhythm and order one before realising it’s low carb (trust me, I need all the carbs I can get). However, it’s not a bad beer and easy to drink and I order some soft-shell school prawns to go with it while my friends grab the spinach ravioli with a burnt butter and sage sauce as well as the fried olives filled with pork, veal and roasted fennel seeds.
The soft-shell prawns are tasty but small (and I still never know whether you’re meant to eat the heads), the olives are not as spicy as I expected but certainly good, but the ravioli is fantastic – freshly made, large and yet delicate and tender. I wish I’d ordered it myself.
To break away from beer I order a glass of the Innocent Bystander pinot noir, which is a great red wine with rich berry flavours at $10 a glass. We then go downstairs, where Michael Jackson is playing on the turntable, and I grab a glass of the Idiot shiraz – which is ok, but I feel like an idiot for not sticking with the Innocent Bystander.
Pure Blonde’s sponsorship runs until mid December but there are rumours that this bar might continue in one form or another after this date. I certainly hope that’s the case since the ravioli and sandstone basement alone make me want to come back – but it’s probably wise to pay a visit now just in case.
The Pond, 32 Burton Street, Darlinghurst. Phone 9358 1487 or see The Pond website. The restaurant is open Wednesday to Sunday from midday to midnight and the courtyard is open midday to 5pm weekdays and Saturday.
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Now it’s your turn – how do you rate this bar?