The ever-changing hub of Redfern and Chippendale is bringing with it a new breed. The gentrification of the area has seen not only a rise in house and rent prices but it now seems to be the go-to area for anything that oozes cool. There has been an explosion in developments, fine dining restaurants and art galleries.
Location is key in the development and growth of Chippendale: you’re just 3km out of the city centre, nestled in between the rowdier streets of Newtown and just outside of the CBD lockout zone. With not a lockout law in sight you’re free to indulge in a few beverages as late as you would like (Can I get an AMEN).
The streets are buzzing with students, creatives, skaters and hipsters. It’s an interesting vibe and there’s so much to see and do. I took a day to explore Redfern and Chippendale and to see and taste for myself what the government’s Central to Eveleigh Urban Renewal Project had done for the area.
Tudor Hotel, Redfern
I started the day at the Tudor Hotel, Redfern which has recently undergone a freshen up to not only the pub itself but the food and drinks menu. If you’re looking for somewhere cool to have a birthday or function, this just could be the place for you.
It has all the trimmings you’d expect from a traditional pub, but they’ve raised the stakes with an epic new food and cocktail menu. The mains are to die for and really reasonably priced for the size of the meals; you can choose from a range of burgers, steaks and fish dishes. There are also share items should you and some friends just feel like grazing.
Speaking of sharing, there are a few different function spaces to chose from — through the main bar you can head out to a courtyard area surrounded by foliage and enjoy a cider while the sun hits your face. There’s also the balcony which sits around 30 people comfortably. You could sit there for hours with friends enjoying the food and vibe.
Inside is moodier with dark timber features, a dining area with high tables to either share a beer over or grab a quick bite. There’s also a bottle-o with a great selection of Australian wines for those of you who prefer to have a night cap in the comfort of your own home.
This gem really has everything you could ask for of an inner city pub, I’ll be back next week to grab a board game off the bar and settle in for a glass of red and a game of Scrabble.
The White Rabbit Gallery, Chippendale
I then headed to The white rabbit gallery, home to one of the world’s largest and most contemporary collections of Chinese art in the world. Once a Rolls Royce service depot in the 1940s, the gallery has since been completely refitted to show the White Rabbit collection, which includes almost 2000 works by more than 500 artists.
White Rabbit Gallery is a registered charitable institution funded solely by the Neilson Foundation, so entry to the gallery is free! Which means you can save your pennies and head downstairs after your fix of culture and check out the Rabbit Hole Organic Tea Bar, the brain child of Corinne Smith and Amara Jarratt.
The space is gorgeous; a huge amount of thought has gone into the finishing touches by designer Matt Woods. Porcelain pieces are moulded with gold, inspired by the Japanese art of kintsugi, the bright white tiles bounce the light throughout the space, you could get lost there for hours either drinking and eating with friends or reading your favourite novel. This space redefines everything you ever thought about tea houses, it isn’t kitsch at all. It’s modern and inviting, with exposed brick whitewashed walls, glass panels and the menu is beyond perfect, there really is something for everyone.
I spent quite a while browsing the take-home tea options and then the extensive tea menu to find the perfect tea to try on my first visit. I decided on a sparkling tea — it’s actually poured from beer taps, giving the tea connoisseur a perfect cup every time. If sparkling isn’t your thing, then there’s also a range of tea lattes to choose from.
The food menu is adventurous and in line with the cool atmosphere of the tea bar. There’s a breakfast toast adventure with black tea chutney, spinach, bacon, poached eggs and hollandaise; fig and almond granola with tea-infused milk; or perhaps the tea-marbled egg with kimchi and kale topped toast.
But, you must try the Lavender shortbread, it’s delicious, crumbly with just a hint of lavender — it was divine! I decided to try the dessert degustation which included 4 meticulous, hand crafted desserts with matching teas — I was blown away! The flavours were delicious, balanced and well thought out. The teas matched perfectly and for $27 you couldn’t find a better place to hang with the girls (or boys) for a morning or afternoon. Get lost down the rabbit hole, you won’t regret it.
They’ve been extremely picky with their tenants and the quality of dining along this lane proves that. I walked into Automata and was immediately blown away — there is a real industrial feel with dark, polished concrete floors, huge beams of steel and large glass windows, with their use of lighting taking the interiors to the next level.
The restaurant is the brainchild of none other than ex head chef of Momofuku Seiōbo and they have absolutely nailed it. The service was impeccable, offering a 5 course set menu, starting with a couple of small share plates then moving into a much more complex 4 dish course, the meals are then finished off with an unbelievable dessert. I love set menu idea, it takes all the guess work out of what to order, and the best part is that the menu changes weekly to keep it fresh and up to date.
The wine list was put together by none other than Tim Watkins, who is the tastebuds behind Esther and Monopole (another favourite bar of mine). There is a great mix of local and imported beverages to choose from plus a variety of Sake and Amero to quench even the pickiest of thirsts.
This is the perfect restaurant for date night or a business meeting, the ambiance is electric and I highly recommend you head down and have a meal here. This is definitely on my top 5 list of favourite places to eat and drink in Sydney.
Cake Wines Cellar Door, Redfern
The last stop of the evening was the Cake Wines Cellar Door. This emerging contemporary winery is located in a recently restored warehouse; the backdrop of exposed bricks gives you a raw, industrial vibe with high ceilings and huge barrel wall for that extra touch. The tunes were electric and I was super excited to settle in for the night. Since the conception of the brand 5 years ago, Cake Wines has just gone from strength to strength, and the cellar door was just the next natural step according to Sarah Burvill, head winemaker at Cake. I chatted to Sarah about her background and where the brand was going in 2016 and beyond.
LC: Tell me about the Cake Wine philosophy.
SB: When Glen Cassidy, Mike Smith and myself started Cake Wines we set out on journey to change the culture of wine, to change the tone of wine conversations, to open up the beautiful world of wine to a new group of people… and to turn them into wine lovers.
We wanted to break down some of the traditional stereotypes, the layers of over-complication, the barriers that often make the world of wine seem intimidating, overwhelming, less than inviting. We love wine, we love making wine, drinking wine, talking wine and we want to share that love with people in an approachable, inviting and fun way. We feel like often the wine industry struggles with this, as it’s often perceived as stuffy and un-inviting and we’re trying to change that by not only celebrating wine, but also the culture that wine is a part of — music, food, art, film, design, photography and ideas.
Wine is a celebration, with your friends and family in a cultural context that you love… and what do you do when you celebrate? You have cake. That’s where the name came about.
LC: What do you enjoy most about the cellar door in Redfern?
SB: Being able to talk one-on-one with people about the wine, receiving feedback and generally just connect with the thing we love most — wine! We also get to program all our favourite cultural things like DJs, bands, exhibitions and talks. We’re doing what we love and are lucky enough to have a lot of freedom to try things out, such as our newly installed pizza oven!
LC: What’s your inspiration?
SB: My winemaking inspiration comes primarily from what I see and taste in the vineyard. While consistency of a product is important from one vintage to the next my best ideas come when wandering the rows and tasting the fruit. My winemaking is driven by wanting to highlight and compliment the most interesting features I see in each individual grape variety and vineyard, so to this effect, I’m always experimenting and changing it up.
LC: Are there any new winemaking techniques or tools you’d like to experiment with?
SB: I’m very lucky to have so much creative freedom in my winemaking! I don’t agree with having a set winemaking formula and I’m always keeping up to date with new techniques, wine styles, yeast, Coopers etc. Every vintage I seek to try something new, but varietal and regional expression remain a priority. Being aware of the chemistry behind the winemaking process is important but I’m never tied down by numbers.
LC: What wines are you working on this year?
SB: Right now I’m working with Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Shiraz, Vermentino, Gruner Veltliner and Sagrantino all from the Adelaide Hills.
LC: What have been the best vintages?
SB: Cake Wines has five vintages under its belt. Each year we fine-tune our styles based on the excellent feedback we get from our savvy consumers. All of our fruit is now sourced from the Adelaide Hills, an exceptionally cool climate wine region. We work very closely with our grape growers to continually improve the fruit quality and stylistically its always about making a hero out of each varietal.
LC: Next steps for you and Cake Wines?
SB: We’re giving the brand a home and a place where we can continue to educate and entertain in Redfern. In the not too distant future we’re looking to add and second range of small production alternate varieties to the mix. Right now however, after a fast and furious vintage 2016, its time for me to catch up on some sleep!
Bondi-based Lisa Clark has an acute appreciation for food, travel, events and photography and through this lifestyle she creates beautiful and inspiring content on her blog and Instagram @iamlisaclark.