304 Palmer St Darlinghurst, NSW 2010
A can of cheap beer and a disused laundromat doesn't sound like the secret for reinvigorating a city but you could argue that's what they have done. My companion's first comment when we enter Darlie Laundromatic and sit down with a couple of Tsing Tao cans is that this is the kind of thing cities such as Berlin and New York have been doing for years; the quirky, the cool, the adventurous, the think-outside-the-box. ''Finally, Sydney is doing it,'' she says. Finally, there are so many choices for different, bizarre, forward-thinking, creative bars in Sydney. There are bars with knitting, bars on islands, bars underground, bars serving Mojitos in toothpaste tubes, bars selling shirts … the list goes on.
AS THE NAME WOULD SUGGEST this one is in an old laundromat. The original sign for the Darlie Laundromatic and Dry Cleaning is still out the front (which confuses many people) but inside it's been completely gutted and refitted with a retro, granny-chic feel. There are velvet armchairs in the front window, a long bar table, some '70s-style chairs and tables down the back and a tiny bar crowded with pretty jars, ceramic jugs, old pots and pans and daggy teatowels. It's so quaint and homely you feel you could pop behind the bar and mix yourself a drink. The laundry's spirit lives on in a couple of ways, with a row of taps serving as coat and bag hooks and dry cleaning price lists still adorning one wall.
WITH BAR SPACE LACKING, the drinks menu isn't too flamboyant. The beer du jour is Tsing Tao cans (literally every guy in the place is drinking one, $5) and the wine list is small, with nine to choose from by the glass from Victoria, South Australia, France, Spain and a couple of house cleanskins ($6) that are friendly on the hip pocket. Home-made organic cordials come in delicious flavours such as raspberry and ginger, sour apple, passionfruit and pear and maple and can be added to vodka and soda ($7.50) with a dinky little stirrer. In place of a cocktail, they're super tasty and moreish. Raspberry and ginger gets my vote. I feel like a kid all over again (minus the vodka part).
LIKE THE BAR ITSELF the food is a mix of quirky, daggy, homely and hipster cool. Organic and creative salads are plentiful - the carrot and ginger salad with baby spinach miso and sesame ($13) is good, as is the warm chorizo and white bean salad with baby spinach and kalamata sourdough ($16). Roasted nuts, dukkah, a plowman's platter and some deliciously salty Afghan flatbread with chunky dips cover off-the-bar food staples. There are a couple of steak sandwiches if you want a no-frills meal. And then there are the mini hot dog sliders - hipster food trend of the minute - that are so darn good I could down two dozen. They're all done differently - American dog, Danish dog, Laundry dog, stray dog - and come with finger-lickin' toppings such as dill pickle, crunchy onions, harissa aioli or remoulade. I am licking my lips thinking about them. A hot dog, a cup of cordial and a dry cleaner - they're just what the city needed.
Darlie Laundromatic Address 304 Palmer Street, Darlinghurst, 8095 0129 Open Tues-Sat, 11am-11pm
YOU'LL LOVE IT IF you're after a quirky, quaint place to drink.
YOU'LL HATE IT IF you hate the hippest, newest bars.
GO FOR mini dogs, home-made organic cordials with vodka and soda $7.50, beer $5-$10, mini dogs $4-$5, wine by the glass $6-$10.