Your mates' place: Brodie Stewart in his new bar, Far North. Photo: Sahlan Hayes
Good things are brewing in the far north. Bar culture has made its way from Crows Nest, North Sydney and Linfield to the northern tips of Turramurra with Kiplings and the latest addition, Far North.
What's more, these northern newbies are actually good.
The north shore is carving out its own particular brand of small bar that is cheerily social, populated by all ages, oozing homely suburbia and always serving darn good wine.
Far North's owners, Brett Strauss, Aidan Thomas and Brodie Stewart, helped open the successful Lindfield bar Blackout Cafe and spoke to countless drinkers who were desperate for something similar further north.
''They were dying for something, anything, that wasn't a restaurant and wasn't serving pasta,'' Strauss says.
From street level, Far North doesn't look like much - just a wooden deck above legendary (in these parts, at least) Chinese restaurant Happyland.
Inside, however, it's got all the hallmarks of a snappy small bar. It's a warm, casual space neatly divided into a deck with converted barrels as tables, a slim dining room with more intimate banquettes and a long, wooden bar.
Timber is interspersed with vases of flowers and sleek industrial lights. It's equal parts country homestead and Surry Hills wine bar.
As suspected, wine is the best place to start. There are four cocktails but they're not spectacularly flavoursome, perhaps with the exception of the Big Hill (Beefeater gin, lychee, passionfruit, lime, $15).
Instead, it seems the perfect, cosy spot to tuck into a giant glass of Alamos malbec ($9) with its silky, rich flavours.
Timber slats behind the bar list an ever-changing selection by the glass including some lovely sparkling wines like a Duchess from the Hunter Valley ($14) which gets my companion's nod of approval.
The plonk is sourced from near and far.
A 2011 Laurenz gruner veltliner from Austria seems an excellent choice for $39 a bottle while the Central Otago reds are also delicious - a 2012 Chard Farm pinot noir ($58) and 2011 Rabbit Ranch pinot noir ($46) are great companions to a cheesy pizza.
The food menu is a bit of an odd, hotch-potch offering with thin pizzas and burgers on bread boards alongside a list of share plates that seemingly aims to tick off every bar food trend in Sydney no matter how incongruous.
There's a touch of Happyland with chicken and quinoa sang choy bao ($16), pan-fried prawn dumplings ($15.50) and chicken hot pot with pita bread and rice ($17).
But we've also got Mexican (chicken tacos, $4 each), Spanish (chorizo with balsamic glaze, tomato relish and bread, $15.50) and rustic mod-Oz (pork belly with potato puree and rocket salad, $18.50).
It's ticks the ''easy-peasy bar-food'' box but perhaps not the ''top-notch restaurant'' quality box.
The sang choy bao is a highlight and the garlic and thyme roasted mushrooms with goat's cheese and dill ($15.50) are deliciously comforting, especially on sourdough - ask.
Some boutique beers would improve the offering but it's just the usual selection including Peroni, 4 Pines and Little Creatures.
A relaxed, casual vibe makes it easy to linger at Far North, as though it were your mates' place.
Put it down to the fact that, like most of the new breed of north shore bars, their owners are locals who know what the locals want.
You'll love it if … you've been dying for a small bar in the north
You'll hate it if … you're expecting a five-star sit-down dinner as well
Go for … Alamos malbec, Big Hill, chicken and quinoa sang choy bao
- 02 9988 0016
- Cuisine - Modern Australian
- Prices - Wine by the glass $7.50-$10, bottled beer $7-$9.50, cocktails $14-$18, pizzas $17.50-$18.50
- Features - Bar, Licensed, Outdoor seating
- Owners - Brett Strauss, Aidan Thomas and Brodie Stewart
- Opening Hours - Tuesday-Saturday 5pm-11pm, Sunday 4pm-10pm
- Author - Rachel Olding