173 Darlinghurst Road Darlinghurst, NSW 2010
Call it the curse of the corner. Perched on the corner of William Street and Darlinghurst Road next to the fire station, Awkward Bar has one of the best spots in Sydney. It's right on the divide between Kings Cross and Darlinghurst and enjoys a cracking view under the glow of the Coca-Cola sign. But this is possibly the third venue I have visited here in about as many years.
NOBODY SEEMS TO BE ABLE to nail this spot and I'm not convinced Awkward Bar does either. It's an arty, fashiony-type spot owned by a former dancer, Fuzz Ali, and decorated in a way that would make Derek Zoolander proud - plenty of camp feathers and sequins, dressed-up mannequins and leopard-print chairs. There's live music most days of the week and, on the night we visit, a bizarre human statue posing in the middle of the bar, dressed in a genie-cum-salsa outfit. Negotiating my way around her to get to the toilet is, as the bar's name implies, awkward. It doesn't all come together into a cohesive and convincing whole and the place feels a little unsure of what exactly it's trying to be.
THERE ARE PLENTY OF HITS here. Some of the food and drinks are very good. The Pink Flamingo cocktail (vanilla vodka, rhubarb syrup, lemon, egg white, $17) and the Awkward burger (a beef burger on a grainy bun, $19) impress me. And, call me daggy, but I like the fact the cocktail list says which type of glass each comes in. I find this helps visualise what kind of drink I want - a fizzy, fruity concoction in a highball or a strong, smooth, pretty thing in a coupe. If you're tossing up, go for the latter. The Spiced Rum Rickey in a highball (Sailor Jerry spiced rum, lime, chilli vodka, ginger, ginger ale, $17) is disappointingly bland, whereas the Toasted Rose Mellow in a coupe (marshmallow vodka, cream, lemon, lime, rose tea, orange blossom syrup, vanilla vodka foam, $19) is full of interesting flavours. You'd want it to be for the price tag. Some of these cocktails are more than $20 and not justifiably so.
THE WINES GO FOR AN ITALIAN FEEL with several drops from Italy and other Australian wines with an Italian influence. There are some unexpected ones, such as an interesting Il Polenza pinot noir rose´ from Marche Italy ($11) as well as some more familiar ones such as the wines-of-the-minute from the Two Italian Boys in the Riverina.
THERE ARE ALSO PLENTY OF MISSES despite the hits. When we arrive, the music skips and blares intermittently and is almost unbearable. The bar staff, while attentive and genuinely lovely, are also unsure of themselves and service could be tighter. And some of the food is average - stay away from crumbed cheese balls ($10) and vegetarian pie ($14).
WEEKNIGHTS TEND TO BE QUIET but Fridays and Saturdays, as you'd expect, are much busier. There's an odd crowd, most of whom seem to wander in curiously on their way to and from the Cross. I'd recommend this as a place for a couple of cocktails before or after something else.
Address 173 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst, 0424 290 568
Open Tues-Wed, 6pm-midnight; Thurs-Sat, 6pm-2am; Sun, 3pm-10pm