High up in the sky, under the gaze of stoic griffins, it is possible to eat properly luscious hamburgers on the open-air rooftop of legendary music venue the Lansdowne Hotel like a jaunty VIP.
Here, sitting at wooden cable spool tables on bright green fake turf, and noting graffiti that asks you to "Put your hot sauce in my moist burger", we could be at a secret after-gig club made public.
Mary's On Top, part of the Mary's group of burger and pizza restaurants in the CBD, Circular Quay, Newtown and Chippendale, opened in June and is just now starting to feel the warmth of spring in the air.
On a spacious rooftop festooned with red and white party lights and ringed by chimney stacks, trees and far-off Sydney University buildings, the views are striking. To the north, just metres away, it's possible to see the eyes of griffins ringing the dome above Broadway Shopping Centre's ornate clock tower. It feels possible to stretch out and touch the 116-year-old building I always call Grace Brothers.
Swing your gaze to the left for the warm afternoon light touching the trees of Victoria Park as pedestrians wander beside traffic belting along City Road and Broadway.
Then pick up, as we do, a classic Mary's burger and a Mary's cheeseburger with added, home-smoked "trash can bacon" and sink your teeth into a glorious whirl of succulent meat, luscious oozing cheese, piquant pickles and fat, sweet bread buns holding it all together.
Grab piles of thin and golden crispy hot chips, served with every burger in a basket, and try to stop stuffing them into your mouth. Keep going, pausing only to munch on deep-fried florets of cauliflower, dripping with oil that runs down your fingers onto the wooden table-top.
Take a moment to sip from a glass of chardonnay and wonder if you have room for one of the pizzas being served from 6pm on Friday and Saturday nights. They are, in the laid-back style of Mary's on Top, listed as ranging from the Mushroom F----- to the Tropical F-----, Smokey F----- and Spicy F-----. To this I would object if I was a vegan, as that pizza choice is simply called the Vegan Supreme.
Mary's On Top co-owners, Jake Smyth and business partner Kenny Graham, have said they wanted this open-air rooftop restaurant to feel like being backstage at a music festival and there's a definite fast and loose air about the place.
Red-taped floor arrows direct patrons through a labyrinth of dark, weaving Lansdowne corridors and headily beer-hued rooms to a mysterious back access. A stencilled fist with raised indexed finger shows the way up internal fire stairs that feel like the way to secret illegal escapades.
Food is cooked in an open-air kitchen ringed by plastic barricades, the bar is built from still splintery reclaimed wood and we're all sitting on bar stools dripping burger juice into absorbent cable reel wood. When we order drinks, the bar staff, a mix of smiles, beanies, pink hair and leg tattoos, are dancing.
Mary's On Top feels like a place to escape. From the city, the recession, the ever hustling and bustling world. Up in the roof, lick your burger-slicked fingers under glowing lights and watch the unobscured sun light up the sky.
Mary's on Top
Where: Lansdowne Hotel, 2-6 City Road, Chippendale
Main attraction: Sitting beneath the sky on top of a pub eating luscious burgers with views across trees and buildings.
Must-try dish: Mary's burger; lush, beefy, softly bunned with a good pile of hot thin chips.
Insta-worthy dish: Cheeseburger with trashcan bacon (lovely oozing qualities).
Drinks: Wine: rose, white, red, orange juice, bubbles, beer.
Prices: Burgers (including vegan) $19-$20; pizzas (including vegan) $16-$18; half/whole chook $22/$40; mash and gravy $8; half/whole cauliflower $15/$25; sides $2-$25
Hours: Wed 4pm-10pm; Thu-Sun noon-10pm.