The crackling fire, the promise of a warm, hearty meal – is there anywhere better than a pub on a chilly winter’s day?
The Commons Local Eating House
There’s a real farmhouse vibe at The Commons – which is mostly explained by its former life as a farmhouse, some 160 years ago. Darlo hasn’t a bucolic bone left in its body, but The Commons folk spent a lot of time, energy and Redheads ensuring one of the hearths within its sandstone walls is fully functional. And what a hearth it is, bathing the whole place in a warm amber glow and making the air redolent of wood smoke. The rest of The Commons is just as consoling on a cold winter’s night with its subterranean rooms, flickering candles and rustic farmhouse menu.
32 Burton Street, Darlinghurst
The Four in Hand
Image by Nikki To.
This conjoined local watering hole/fine-dining restaurant shouldn’t work, but it does. In the pub there are six large-screen TVs showing footy, and trivia on Mondays; next door it’s all white tablecloths and kangaroo tartare. It doesn’t matter which part of The Four in Hand you dine in, you’re guaranteed a soul-warming experience, especially on Sunday when for $24 the kitchen – overseen by none other than Guillaume Brahimi – turns out perfect joints of roasted meat accompanied by seasonal vegies and crisp roast potatoes. And something of a unicorn on a pub menu: desserts are given sincere consideration – Banoffee Tart with peanut brittle will warm your cockles.
105 Sutherland Street, Paddington
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The Temperance Society
The Inner East may have claimed the mantel for quantity of cosy pubs but the Inner West has The Temperance Society, a neighbourhood bar as warm and charismatic as Chris Pratt in a Snuggie. Upstairs, armchairs, a library nook and a chesterfield combine to create the lounge room of your dreams, while downstairs the prices will make you feel pretty smug, too, with Sicilian olives for $3.50 and a very respectable $5 toastie. Temperance is now brewing hot mulled cider with Young Henry’s Cloudy Cider in Newtown; a soothing hot toddy made with spiced rum or whiskey; and an adults-only hot chocolate made with Mr Black Cold Press Coffee Liqueur and Distillery Botanica Koko Noir Chocolate Liqueur.
122 Smith Street, Summer Hill
"The Shakey" has been a Surry Hills mainstay since 1990 and its wintertime appeal lies not just in its classic pub carpet, rabbit-warren of rooms and 14 beers on tap. The menu is traditional British comfort food such as steak-and-kidney pie, fish and chips and a full English breakfast every weekend. To really thaw your limbs, go for the Shakespeare’s regular $16.95 Traditional Roast Dinner, served only on Sunday from 11am to 10pm. It comes with all the trimmings: crisp roast spuds, proper Yorkshire pudding, rich gravy and garden vegies. Poetry on a plate.
200 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills
The Riverview Hotel & Dining
The only thing that outshines the bright-red doors of the Riverview is the warm glow from the fireplace; cosy is the word that describes this 19th century tavern. Things get even more snug on a Sunday when the kitchen puts on its famous Sunday roast – expect roast beef, Yorkshire pud and all the trimmings. And if for some reason you decide against the roast, turn your attention to the 12-hour braised lamb shoulder – you’ll just need to convince someone to share it with you.
29 Birchgrove Road, Balmain
The Australian Youth Hotel
There is no requirement to be either youthful or Australian at this Glebe gastro pub; in fact, you’ll find most of the AYH staff hails from the Emerald Isle and the building dates back to 1857. Nab a spot on the chesterfield sofa next to the roaring fireplace and settle in for a homey evening amid the pleasant hum of chatter, clinking glasses and candle glow. Double down on that feeling of wellbeing and order the Steak & Guinness Pot Pie. An enormous pie dish is lined with mashed potato, filled with rich stew and topped with a golden lid of puff pastry – and it’s yours, all yours! On Sundays there’s an all-day roast for $25 that changes weekly served from 12pm until sold out.
63 Bay Street, Glebe
This tucked-away bar is all vintage cocktail accoutrements, dapper serving staff and Art Deco flourishes. It’s part speakeasy, part New York supper club, with booths fitted with leather banquettes, chandeliers and a menu featuring oysters, caviar and steak au poivre. Every Sunday, though, The Roosevelt eschews its American bent in favour of the Old Dart, putting on a $25 roast of beef sirloin with Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings. To amplify those feelings of enormous wellbeing, add a goblet of fragrant, steaming mulled wine.
32 Orwell Street, Potts Point
The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel
Back in colonial days there was no climate-control, no polar fleece, no Rheem hot-water systems. You kept warm with copious amounts of denial, beer and a roaring fireplace. So it goes at the Lord Nelson, Sydney’s oldest continually licensed pub, where the seasonal ales are brewed on-site, the fire crackles and the only denial is about having to work tomorrow.
19 Kent Street, The Rocks
The Lord Dudley
The Lord Dudley is the closest Sydney has to an olde worlde English pub with its two roaring fires, pints of bitter, sturdy wooden bar (perfect for leaning upon while holding forth to the publican) and a menu of British gastro-pub winners such as bangers and mash. The family-run institution serves as a meeting place for locals (and their dogs), who gather in its wood-panelled spaces for craft beers and the Sunday roast, served for lunch and dinner.
236 Jersey Road, Paddington
The Cricketers Arms
You can tell a good Sydney pub by whether or not locals have given it a nickname. Case in point: the Crix. Downstairs, it’s a character-filled old boozer with lounges pulled around the fireplace; upstairs, little rooms are crammed with mismatched furniture and dotted with snug nooks. The bistro menu has always been respectable – pub fare with pride – and on Sunday there is a killer $15 roast with seasonal vegies and buttery mash. Like a warm hug.
106 Fitzroy Lane, Surry Hills
The rooftop courtyard is a warm-weather delight but The Taphouse is more than just a summer fling. Refusing to hibernate during the winter months, the three-level tavern is very welcoming with its shiny beer taps (20 at last count), worn floorboards and eclectic array of seating options (chesterfield or throne-like armchair, the choice is yours). The winter warmth is particularly evident on Sunday when the pub puts on its $25 traditional roast (12pm until sold out) – either beef or pork belly, each with soul-warming roast potatoes, honey-roasted carrot, enormous Yorkshire pudding and tasty gravy.
122 Flinders Street, Darlinghurst
The East Sydney
As the barometer drops dramatically (well, for Sydney), the East Sydney Hotel puts in a large order for wood for the fireplace, around which patrons gather on chilly evenings. To thaw frozen fingertips (and melt hard hearts), order a mug of spiced mulled wine or apple cider – and be careful not to singe your coat. On a Sunday, it get even snugger when patrons pile in to see live jazz and snack on vegan chickpea and kumera curry, and definitely not vegan steak and chips.
Corner Crown and Cathedral streets, Woolloomooloo
There’s a very well regarded restaurant at 3 Weeds with a seven-course tasting menu but the main bar isn’t precious. Nab a spot by the enormous sandstone fireplace at this Rozelle grande dame that has been letting Inner Westies in from the cold since 1880 and peruse the menu. During the week it’s all burgers, mac and cheese and fish and chips while on Sunday the comfort factor is upped with an all-day roast for two people for $50. It could be lamb shoulder, it might be crispy pork belly, and it will definitely come with all the trimmings.
197 Evans Street, Rozelle
The Old Fitzroy
The Fitz is a Sydney institution, a glowing beacon beckoning from the backstreets of Woolloomooloo. Once safely ensconced, patrons can partake of 22 beers on tap, ideally to be consumed by the fireplace. Marshmallows are free for the roasting and on Sunday a $20 roast is most civilised, with a glass of wine or a beer included in the price. Check out the box office for what’s playing at the Old Fitz Theatre to prolong the pleasure.
129 Dowling Street, Woolloomooloo
The Hero of Waterloo
There are actually three fireplaces at this venerable pub in The Rocks, though the one you need to make a beeline for is in the main bar – it’s the biggest and marred by neither cigarette machine nor big-screen TV. Dating to 1843 (The Hero is involved in an ongoing biff with its neighbour The Lord Nelson over which is technically Sydney’s oldest pub – don’t get involved), the old building still has shackles and a smuggler’s tunnel in its basement. A night cuffed to the sandstone walls or an encounter with the ghost of Anne Kirkman (allegedly pushed down the stairs to her death by her publican husband in 1849) don’t sound particularly soothing but a few moments warming your hands by the fire and a snifter of whisky should put paid to that.
81 Lower Fort Street, Millers Point
It may be right by the water at Woolloomooloo Wharf but that’s neither here nor there during the winter months when there are three fireplaces to park yourself beside at The Tilbury. On a Sunday the kitchen serves up a $35 roast with the most – braised lamb shoulder, mint sauce, cauliflower cheese and roast potatoes; pork loin with crackling, apple sauce and all the trimmings; or a Sunday Spit Roast which is cooked and carved in the courtyard by head chef Mark Holland. Available from 12pm to 5pm.
12-18 Nicholson Street, Woolloomooloo
The Foxtrot Inn
It’s easy to walk on past the unobtrusive Falcon Street entry to the Foxtrot Inn. Come in from the cold to an intimate den complete with well-stoked fire, armchairs you can really sink into, low lighting and clever cocktails. A wintery evening, though, requires a glass of full-bodied red for instant internal heating.
28 Falcon Street, Crows Nest
There’s nothing cosier than having a faithful hound snoozing at your feet. Pooch is welcome at Redfern’s favourite neighbourhood bar, but if you’re dog-less, Arcadia still offers the solace of twinkling fairy lights and the succour of a warming cup of Gunther’s Glühwein – red wine spiked with cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, star anise and orange rind. Add a cheese toastie for chilly winter’s eve excellence.
7 Cope Street, Redfern