The Terminus review

The reopened Terminus hotel in Pyrmont, Sydney.
The reopened Terminus hotel in Pyrmont, Sydney. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

61 Harris St Pyrmont, NSW 2009

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Opening hours Mon-Sat 11am-midnight; Sun 11am-10pm
Features Accommodation, Family friendly, Groups, Outdoor seating, Pub dining, Licensed
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)

How would you be to reopen a pub with one of the best examples of Tooth's and Reschs​ signage in Sydney and not have either beer on tap? Not even a couple of longnecks in the fridge just to say you stock it. Honestly. I'm half-tempted to report the new owners of this landmark Pyrmont pub to the Advertising Standards Bureau.

To be fair, the Terminus is far from the only Sydney pub with vintage booze signage that doesn't match the kegs. I only mention the 1980s artwork (also spruiking a beer garden, snack bar and "bar•b•q") because for more than 30 years the Terminus has been known to most Sydneysiders as "that abandoned pub in Pyrmont covered in ivy with the old Reschs sign."

The Harris Street old girl was established in the early 1860s and originally called the Coopers Arms Inn. It became the Terminus Hotel in 1911 and by all reports it was a real knees-up boozer Back In The Day. A proper cops-and-crims haunt in the 1970s, the Terminus may have also been the first Sydney pub to employ topless barmaids.

Many locals knew the Terminus as 'that abandoned pub in Pyrmont covered in ivy with the old Reschs sign'.
Many locals knew the Terminus as 'that abandoned pub in Pyrmont covered in ivy with the old Reschs sign'. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

Last drinks were called in 1983, leaving the hotel to be taken over by squatters and the ghosts of dock workers still looking for a fight. It was bought by David Mathlin and Binu Katari for $4.75 million in 2016 and the renovators spent another $2 million breathing life back into the joint. The Terminus reopened March 5 and it is very much a Hells Angels- and nude waitress-free zone.

Thanks to three decades in pub purgatory, the public bar tiles and pressed metal ceiling remain and have been beautifully restored. Pastel walls, marble and brass are punctuated with reconditioned timber and potted succulents. It reminds me of Merivale venues The Paddington and Queens Hotel but without the taxidermy and Justin Hemmes' bottomless pockets.

The front room is the swishest spot for a pint in Pyrmont and although there's an unforgivable lack of Tooth's finest, it's nice to see taps from local brewers such as Wayward and Grifter cameo among the James Squire and New.

Rolled borek pastries stuffed with mushroom, feta, haloumi and kashar cheese.
Rolled borek pastries stuffed with mushroom, feta, haloumi and kashar cheese. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

On the first level you can find Vera's Cocktail Lounge, spilling onto an outdoor terrace and named after a no-nonsense landlady who ran the pub in 1930s. It should probably be renamed to Vera's Kirin and Prosecco Lounge judging by the drink orders of its noisy Friday night clientele, who look like they know a lot about buying real estate and Bitcoin.

There are cocktails, though, and the Terminus Sour ($17) is a refreshing order of whisky and Pernod absinthe shaken with fresh lemon juice and house-made thyme syrup. 

A Mediterranean-accented menu from chef Bektas Mustafa Ozcan (ex-Chiswick) is family- and first date-friendly. Healthy salad bowls; fish and chips; a house burger; you know the drill.

Refreshing: the Terminus Sour.
Refreshing: the Terminus Sour. Photo: Supplied

Rolled borek pastries stuffed with mushroom, feta, haloumi and kashar cheese are served blistering hot and prove great value at three for $12.

There are a few respectable cuts of meat being flipped on the grill, but I'm confused about why my otherwise cracking Rangers Valley hanger steak ($36) is served with a cheese-and-bacon-potato-bake-style thing, cherry tomatoes, grilled cos lettuce and a prosciutto topper. It's the kind of dinner you might eat on the last night of a beach house holiday: "Well, I guess we should use up all the food left in the fridge."

Regardless, the Terminus is a welcome addition to the neighbourhood for anyone after a pub that doesn't televise mixed martial arts and serve $10 rump. If decorative Perrier-Jouet bottles and $9 schooners aren't your bag, best hit the nearby Lord Wolseley or Kauri Foreshore instead. I guarantee you the Reschs lines run clean.

If you only drink one thing: Grifter Bright Eye Pilsner $9

If you only eat one thing: Three-cheese borek pastries $12.