106 George St Redfern, NSW 2016
|Opening hours||Mon-Thu 4pm-late; Fri 11.30am-late; Sat-Sun 3pm-late|
|Features||Licensed, Outdoor seating, Bar, Vegetarian friendly|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Payments||eftpos, Cash, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||02 9318 1497|
I've been trying to pinpoint what it is that bothers me most about this new Redfern bar and eating place, and why.
It isn't the service, though it's amazing in 2017 to be faced with this level of indifference. The staff pouring the drinks and waiting tables look to be moonlighting between uni lectures, which might also explain why a smoked Paloma tastes like being water-boarded by simple syrup rather than the dry, refreshing mix of tequila and grapefruit soda it should be. At one point one bar member, having forgotten to ask me if I'd like "small or large wine" (that's how it comes here), pours the "large wine" into two smaller glasses, just like you would at a house party.
Hey, if my cocktail wasn't $17, I'd probably just shake my head, chuckle, and mutter "kids" under my breath and go back to my rocking chair, shaking my fists and yelling at people to get off my lawn.
It isn't the food, either, designed by James Privett (ex Bourbon and the Cut) and executed by a brigade of chefs who look about as invested as the bar staff. In fact, it's not bad at all. They might forget to bring napkins, cutlery or refill water, but they do fulfil the bare requirement of bringing food on plates to the table. So there's that.
There are empanadas if you're just here to snack – the pastry is a little on the thick side and could be shorter, but they're fine alongside a few beers – and if you're here solo, order a soft roll stuffed with crab meat bound with mayonnaise, and given a little crunch with shredded gem lettuce. A double lamb cutlet, grilled pink and juicy is served with a puck of pulled lamb that's been breaded and fried and a sort of pressed potato that looks very Escoffier but tastes a little like what I imagine private school dining hall food might.
It's not the design. Wall-mounted flatscreen TVs aside, the large space is a pretty fit out of pink walls, greenery and comfy canoodling booths. Out the back, there's some lovely mid-century furniture and board games if you're on an above-the-waist-only date.
I think, what it is, is the utter failure to open a venue sympathetic with its surrounding area. Especially one that's been battling gentrification for as hard and long as this one has. It was always going to be a hard pitch, moving into Redfern, where a world of cool things already exist, and have done for some time. Arcadia Liquors, GDR and the Dock have all settled in and brought with them a sense of community, and place, and personality.
Conversely, Misfits is a bar that could be anywhere, and nowhere.
Try this Vegetarians, take heart. The side of roast pumpkin with feta and chickpeas can be ordered as a meal.
Bottom line Crab roll ($6); Empanadas ($12); Lamb cutlet ($32).
Pro Tip: Avoid the cocktails and stick to the beers