Hello Sailor

96 Oxford Street (enter through Foley Street between Crown and Palmer streets), Darlinghurst, NSW

All Details
  • 02 8354 0057
  • $$
Good Food. Bar Hop. Photographs of Hello Sailor in Darlinghurst and their Pina Colada cocktail. Thursday 4th July 2013. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH GOOD FOOD 130704
Drop anchor: All that's missing from Hello Sailor is a view of the sea itself. Photo: James Brickwood

Rachel Olding

A new bar in Sydney that isn't Mexican or speakeasy-themed? What a breath of fresh, sea-salty air. Sure, Sydney is a city that loves its ocean-themed bars and sea views but something about Hello Sailor is a welcome break from the latest rash of trendier-than-thou small bars.

The trio from the Island Bar on Cockatoo Island, Mike Edkins, Marco Faraone and Luke Redington, have taken a punt on the nautical theme and opened a whatever-goes style of seafood shack.

Like a ship's cabin, it is hidden deep in the bowels of Oxford Street and decked out in rich mahogany, international flags and all the ship's best trimmings - anchors, ropes and life jackets galore.

Good Food. Bar Hop. Photographs of Hello Sailor in Darlinghurst and their Pina Colada cocktail. Thursday 4th July 2013. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH GOOD FOOD 130704
Cocktail with pedigree: Pina Colada. Photo: James Brickwood JSB

The entrance is hidden opposite Shady Pines on Foley Street and a secret corridor leads you to the main bar and seafood dining upstairs of the furtive Sailor's Den downstairs.

When it's quiet, Hello Sailor feels a bit cavernous but it takes only a few people on a Friday or Saturday night to make it feel heartier than a pirate's cackle.

Seafood and tropical cocktails are the captain's orders, delivered in a somewhat rough-and-ready manner.

We ordered from a list of cocktails that didn't look like anything special at first glance - just six creations using some ingredients straight from a poolside location in Panama - but it included an excellent Pina Colada (yes, it exists) and a top-notch Armando Alvarez made with Espolon Blanco, fino sherry, sweetened pineapple and lemon (both $17).

The cocktails have an international bent and are meant to be a bit of fun, with mini umbrellas and fruit garnishes aplenty.

Redington's cocktail pedigree - he shook up the bar at Eau De Vie and El Topo in Bondi - means the drinks are a fair few notches up from sugary buckets of pineapple and Bombora.

The food riffs on an Italy-by-the-sea vibe and is, on the whole, lovely despite a few odd dishes.

Tenderly seared, caramelised scallops with pancetta and egg sauce ($4 each) and grilled marinated king prawns ($5 each) are simple and beautiful. Signature north Tuscan panigacci (a bread cooked in terracotta on charcoal) with pesto, stracchino and prosciutto ($15) and beef with thyme, spicy chicory and pea sprouts ($15) are equally sublime.

The cheeseburger ($14) and spiced chicken wings ($9) don't echo the Italian theme.

You can tell the crew have tried to keep the prices reasonable and a few drinks won't hit your hip pocket too badly.

To keep things even cheaper, peruse the list of Italian wines and rotating beers - an $8 glass of 2009 Poggiopiano toscana rosso from Toscana, Italy, or a lively 2011 Tiefenbrunner pinot grigio from Cortaccia ($11) should keep any sailor happy.

Or you can make like you're sailing to Capri with a glass of Italian prosecco or Spanish Segura Viudas Reserva Brut cava NV ($8-$17). Either way, I'll happily jump aboard this good ship again.

YOU'LL LOVE IT IF … you're always looking for a new haunt in Surry Hills.

YOU'LL HATE IT IF … you're expecting ocean views.

GO FOR … Pina Colada, Armando Alvarez, scallops with pancetta and egg sauce.

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96 Oxford Street (enter through Foley Street between Crown and Palmer streets), Darlinghurst, NSW

  • 02 8354 0057
  • Prices - Cocktails $17, wine by the glass $8-$15, seafood shack menu $3.50-$14.
  • Features - Bar
  • Owners - Mike Edkins, Luke Redington, Marco Faraone
  • Opening Hours - Tuesday-Sunday, 5pm-1am
  • Author - Rachel Olding
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