Archive for November, 2013

Oxford Tavern, Petersham – Jelly Wrestling Redux

Oxford Tavern

The Oxford Tavern in its prime (photo courtesy of Newtown Graffiti)

I have to admit that I actually did catch the jelly wrestling at the Oxford Tavern. It’s one of those places that’s impossible to miss, situated on the corner of Crystal Street and New Canterbury Road and a direct shot from Leichhardt to the Portuguese chicken shops of Petersham. I was always curious about the place, but never took the initiative to visit until an English girlfriend of mine decided to hold her birthday party there. Gorgeous girls inviting you to drink with them and watch other gals slug it out in Jell-O in the wrestling arena. I went in the name of friendship. Obviously.

The birthday girl had promised to get in and actually do a wrestling match, but she chickened out at the last minute. Her loss. The wicked ways of the Oxford are now officially gone. As of this week, it is now the newest hipster bar from the Drink ‘N Dine  folks who’ve brought us The Norfolk, Queenies, Santa Barbara and House of Crabs. There may still be some wickedness about, but it will certainly be more respectable. Possibly. You can still pretend to be naughty if you order one of the “Swinging Tit” cocktails (if you guessed that’s pisco, sage, hibiscus and pineapple, you’re a better man barman than me).

Here are the full press deets, folks. Pool tables, pulled pork and, yes, even a ladies night. Hey, at least they didn’t go all schmick on us. But if Petersham is on the cool-kid map, the rest of the dominos in the Inner West are sure to follow soon. Expect your next Twothousand bar reviews to come from Sydneyham, Tempe and Ashfield.

After that, the only logical place left for the fringe will be out West. Time for you real estate guys to start sniffing out Auburn and Lakemba. The ‘Outy’ (outer inner west) is now officially the new underground. You heard it here first:

The Oxford Tavern

The Oxford Tavern opens on December 13th, 2013. Previously infamous for all the wrong (right?) reasons, it’s Drink N Dine’s first foray into the Inner Wild West. The strippers have gone, so have the pokies, but the food and booze is back with a schnitzel-fuelled vengeance.

It’s a neighbourhood boozer. Beer barn with sports and plenty of taps out front, while out the back Rita’s Lounge is a late night honky tonk open till 3am. A grand piano, jungle beer garden and the worlds longest* bar alsoawaits.

On the menu are Asado Steak Tacos (with house made tortillas), a Hickory Burger, Buffalo Cauliflower & Chook San Choy Bow (yes). But it’s not all fancy pants, the pub staples are stage side too- stadium sized Double Dogs, Sausages & Sauerkraut, Steaks, and Schnitzels. From the beer garden the Tavern’s custom steel drum smoker will also serve Smoked Brisket, Pulled Pork, Brontosaurus Ribs, Smoked Sausage and lots more.

Pull up a stool and get busy drinking. There is a huge beer selection. If you don’t like beer, that’s cool. There’s plenty of beer and there is also some beer to choose from. Do you cocktail? Take a Slow Dazzle (Black Strap Rum, Campari, Lime, Pineapple), wear a Black Velvet (Stout & Champagne), relax in a Banana Hammock (Sugar Cane, Rye, Banana, Lime), or witness A Swinging Tit (Pisco, Sage, Hibiscus, Pineapple). Plus a throwback wine list to help you reek of the sexy seventies.

There are weekly specials like steak night, ladies night, $3 tacos and $10 burgers as well as pool tables! Something for everyone, all the time.

The Oxford Tavern is open seven days a week, from 12pm till late with Rita’s staying open til 3am Fridays & Saturdays. The BBQ opens on Australia Day and then every Friday to Sunday from midday till it runs out.

Drink ‘n’ Dine was started by Jaime Wirth, Michael Delany and James Miller in November 2010. Together they have opened The Norfolk, The Abercrombie, The Carrington, The Forresters, Queenies, Santa Barbara, The Californian and House of Crabs.

The Oxford Tavern
Cnr of New Canterbury Road & Crystal Street
Petersham NSW 2049


Guillaume Brahimi announces post-Bennelong restaurant

Guillaume Brahimi

Chef Guillaume Brahimi

Pre-empting his well-publicised push exit from Guillaume at Bennelong next month, chef Guillaume Brahimi has already announced his sequel to his French fine-dining restaurant, which this year received a top-rated Three Hats by the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide (whether the extra hat was deserved, or just a pity vote by his food journo peers, is worthy of another blog discussion).

Brahimi’s follow-up to his iconic Sydney Opera House restaurant will move to Paddington, at the stalwart Darcy’s Restaurant site. It looks like a fantastic move for Brahimi. Darcy’s has long been an iconic Italian restaurant to the Eastern Suburbs’ moneyed set – a seamless fit for Brahimi’s upmarket French cuisine – but for years has floundered in terms of public image and critical reception (I never ate there, nor was ever inclined to, so I can’t comment about the food). Brahimi will be giving a greater seasonal focus to his skilled French cooking to a very cosy corner of Paddington that’s crawling distance that other hatted local, The Four in Hand.

So what do you think of the move? Is it a face-saving lateral shift, a more intimate improvement, a downgrade for a chef who’s presided over the highest-profile restaurant space in Sydney, or something entirely different?

For more on the move, here’s today’s press release:



After much anticipation, chef and restaurateur Guillaume Brahimi has announced that he will open a new Sydney restaurant in early 2014.

Brahimi and his team will move into the beautiful and historic Darcy’s Restaurant site in Paddington, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, and will reopen as guillaume by Easter 2014. The new restaurant will see his award-winning team continue the high standard they have become known for at the iconic three- hatted Guillaume at Bennelong.

The restaurant will reflect Brahimi’s philosophy of high quality produce-driven food and will serve an ever-changing menu focused on the seasonal produce of the day.

Brahimi said “My team and I are so excited at the prospect of this new restaurant. It is a fresh start for us in a wonderful venue, full of character and history, a real Sydney institution. We have some ambitious plans that I believe will raise the standard of what we do to a whole new level. I believe it will make the perfect home for my team and me to create something very special.”

Guillaume said “Attilio Marinangeli is one of Sydney’s notable restaurateurs and Darcy’s has been an iconic restaurant for more than thirty eight years. I am grateful that Attilio is giving me the opportunity to establish my new restaurant in that beautiful restaurant space.”

“Like many Sydney- siders I have a strong sentimental attachment to Darcy’s. My wife and I dined there to celebrate the birth of our first daughter and we loved the intimate and elegant atmosphere. We have since had many happy occasions there and we now look forward to many more to come.”

The team at guillaume will include Bennelong’s talented head chef of 12 years, Jose Silva, as well as head sommelier and former Sydney Morning Herald Sommelier of the Year, Chris Morrison.

Having served over half a million diners since 2001, Brahimi’s current restaurant Guillaume at Bennelong will mark its last service on December 31st, New Year’s Eve, to be followed by the move to the new premises in Paddington.

Brahimi has operated some of Sydney’s most acclaimed restaurants since the early 1990s when he moved from Paris where he worked for Joel Robuchon. His restaurants have included two–hatted Pond in Potts Point, Quay, which earned three hats, and finally, since 2001, the three hatted Guillaume at Bennelong.

His restaurants have won the title of Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant of the Year and The Sydney Morning Herald’s Best New Restaurant as well as numerous other accolades, and in 2013 Guillaume was awarded the Vittoria Legend Award for outstanding contribution to the industry.

Brahimi currently operates two other restaurants, Bistro Guillaume in the Crown Entertainment Complex in Melbourne, and Bistro Guillaume in Crown Casino in Perth. He was appointed Culinary Director of Crown Resorts in May 2013. He is also ambassador for Tefal and Samsung.

Following Council approval, renovations will begin at the Paddington site in early January and guillaume will open prior to Easter 2014 at 92 Hargrave Street, Paddington, Sydney.