My love affair with The Clare is unrequited: no matter how many times I have a bevvy there the staff usually just look at me with disdain or, at best, a mild tolerance (I have, however, once in a blue moon received smiles that make me think of Lurch from The Addams Family). In other words, this is similar to most of my past romances.
However, you don’t go to The Clare for the service. Instead, the attraction lies it being one of the few Sydney bars that plays cool indie and rock music, has old retro sofas and armchairs, artworks (some of which are actually decent) on the walls, a pinball and Street Fighter machine, a pool table, gig posters lining the bar counter, and an overall vibe that is dim and cool and bohemian in an art student/I-don’t-give-a-crap kind of way that just shies short of pretension. In other words, instead of being shiny and new and sterile, this has a comfortable, lived-in feel about it.
Smokers can retire to the graffiti-strewn back alley (complete with beer kegs that serve as seats), and other features of interest include an old-fashioned (and broken) weighing machine lurking near the antiquated men’s bathroom, a pokie room that’s largely out of sight and out of mind for most punters, as well as some art deco features from the pub’s past (this is especially noticeable with the ceiling: if you look up, you’ll see the oval arc in the middle of the room that indicates the pub used to have one of those great curved middle bars designed for the six o’clock swill).
As for the sustenance on offer: well, I’d suggest sticking to the beers (a decent range is on tap) and spirits, and the food options are limited to pies as well as a vending machine with crisps and chocolate.
The Clare might not win any design or cocktail awards but if you just want a casual place to hang out and don’t care if the sofas lack adequate ergonomic back support, this might be the pub for you.
The Clare, 20 Broadway, Ultimo (opposite UTS). Phone 9211 2839.
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate The Clare?