125 Enmore Rd Enmore, NSW 2042
Hoist up the John B's sail and set a course to Enmore Road, landlubbers. The Gretz has opened and it's your first port-of-call for an afternoon of clinking pints, quaffing biodynamic wine, listening to Neil Young, and scoffing Batemans Bay sea urchin on toast.
Opening a bar has been a long-term goal of Gregory Llewellyn, chef and co-owner of the one-hatted Hartsyard. After having a baby and writing a cookbook, Llewellyn's wife and business partner, Naomi Hart, says she ran out of excuses not to open a second venue with her husband and The Gretz seafood bar was born.
The slender, earthy-toned room has more in common with the oyster bars of New York than a David Jones food hall and there's a nautical theme by way of thick ropes linking wooden-plank bar-shelves and Edison light bulbs in a formation that resembles either an old fishing net or a very skinny octopus.
On my first visit there was no drip tray underneath a trio of beer taps, and excess beer would pool on to an old beam similar to how I imagine it would at a tavern in Treasure Island. Adding to the excellence of this tableau, beers are served in ye-olde dimpled pint glasses. It was upsetting, then, that a drip tray had taken residence a week later in the same spot.
Llewellyn has designed a short, seafood-focused bar menu executed by Hartsyard chef Stuart McGill. Oysters ($4.50 each) are shucked to order and served natural, cold with sorrel granita, or hot with smoked butter. There's more mollusc in a $5 snack simply called "raw beef" which at The Gretz means beef tartare with oyster and fermented chilli in a oyster shell.
It's a punchy mouthful and probably the only thing that can stand up to a pint of Iron Wizard Black IPA ($12) from local boys, The Grifter Brewing Co. I don't think anything can stand up to the $19 Old Bastard in the Sea from The Gretz 13-strong cocktail list except maybe a cigar and Hemingway paperback. This is what happens when Laphroaig 10 whisky is infused with nori and mixed with Campari and Punt e Mes.
I don't have to travel to regional NSW for decent clams casino any more and it's great. The famous Rhode Island dish is $8 for a Cloudy Bay clam in the half-shell with bread crumbs, cubed bacon, butter, chilli and parmesan cheese. They're fantastic, especially when eaten with a Lovely Mary ($19), a less aggressive house twist on a Bloody Mary which sees Aalborg aquavit (a Danish spirit that smells like a rye and caraway loaf) shaken with fresh cherry-tomato juice, basil, Lillet Blanc and black pepper bitters.
A better wake-me-up for a lazy inner-west arvo is the Coffee and Cigarettes ($19) creation of Johnny Walker Black, with Mr Black coffee liqueur, Antica Formula, and chocolate bitters
The Gretz has officially made Enmore Road my favourite stretch of bitumen in Sydney.
The bar joins, among many others, big-brother Hartsyard, The Stinking Bishops, Russo & Russo, The Midnight Special, Shenkin Kitchen, Cow and Moon, and Faheem Fast Food. With Stanbuli from Porteno's Ibrahim Kasif set to open later in the year at the old Mary Louise Salon site, long may the Road continue to thrive.
Go for: clams casino in the late afternoon.
Stay for: another $8 plate of Scotch olives stuffed with manchego and napped in aioli.
Drink: the Lovely Mary.
And: this might also be only place in town where you can drink beer out of a pot like in crazy Victoria.