If you somehow mashed The Ivy and the Metro Theatre together then you might end up with something like Upstairs Beresford, Justin Hemme’s new music venue above the Beresford bar (you can find out about upcoming performances at the Upstairs Beresford website). On one hand it’s a surprisingly large space with a big stage and moshpit/dance floor but, instead of having tiers of fold-up seats, there’s tables and chairs that give it an almost retro supper-club feel. It’s an attractive venue and the acoustics are good – but a music venue’s chemistry is so delicate (some of my most memorable live music moments have come from dingy, nasty dives) that I’d want to come back a few more times before I give a firm verdict.
As such, I’d rather focus on the food and cocktails in the downstairs bar – especially since the pork belly I order here is the best I’ve ever had (and I’ve probably said that about pork belly before, but I do love my non-kosher delights).
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The main attraction – aside from the pork belly – is the 1920s-style circular wooden bar counter made from Tasmanian oak. I have a fetish for curvaceous bar counters and this is a beauty, complete with leather stools you can perch on (see the photo below). The crowd here is a little too glam for my tastes – I always feel more comfortable in The Flinders just a few minutes away – but the bar’s art deco curves and tiled walls go a long way to making up for it. The fact that a Bangles song is playing while I’m here (and that I’m daggy enough to still be obsessed with Susanna Hoffs) also helps.
I’m not as impressed with the cocktails, however, although the Amazonian Croatian who comes with me is. She orders the Summertime, a cocktail that isn’t on the list but is almost identical to one, called Dunkin for Apples, that is. It’s made with gin, cloudy apple juice, St Germain liqueur and cucumber (and if it had lime then it would be a Dunkin for Apples) and is served in a tall glass. This green concoction pleases the Amazonian, who I suspect has fallen for the bartender (they seem to have bonded while I was wrestling with the bar’s ATM), but to me this botanical cocktail tastes like a garden rather than a real drink.
I sneer in disgust at the both of them as I order a negroni, only to have the bartender ask me what’s in it. This is not a good sign – it’s a stock standard classic made with gin, sweet vermouth and Campari – but the Amazonian makes an excuse about how the bartender is so knowledgeable about classic drinks that he must simply have been checking to make sure I didn’t want a variation.
I sneer again.
Having said that, the negroni he makes is good – although I’d argue it doesn’t have as much of a citrus aroma as I’d have liked (did he rub the glass with the peel? Did he squeeze the peel’s oil into the drink? I should have been watching him like a hawk, but I was too busy sneering).
And on that note we retire to the back room where we have some wine (the Mount Langi Billi Billi shiraz, which is good), a prosciutto pizza (which is great) and the aforementioned pork belly, which is good enough to make up for a dozen garden-tasting cocktails. The skin is crisp, the flesh succulent and the fat nicely rendered.
And on the note of rendering fat, I think I’ll stop my review here. If you have any thoughts on fat, rendered or otherwise, or on the Beresford for that matter, then feel free to leave a comment below.
The Beresford, 354 Bourke St, Surry Hills (across from the St. Margaret’s complex). Phone 02 9357 1111, or see the Beresford bar website. Open everyday from midday to 1am.
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate The Beresford?