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American

Sydney has really been coming alive; dead alleyways rejuvenated by a burst of speakeasys and the impending glorious arrival of some food truckery to our lean street-food scene (more on that next time). Every now and again though you just want to curl up away from the grit and grind with drink in hand to catch some vitamin D.

Jester Seeds has been around for a while but unlike its many small-bar counterparts this has a large signposted shop-front on a main road. The entrance of the bar is open and welcoming: a jumble of tattered chairs, chipped tables and flowers looking out onto the snarl of King street. Slip down the corridor behind the kitchen though and you’ll find a schizophrenic mix of spaces: we pass through the dark candle lit séance corner and the grande open room out to the intimate courtyard at the back, decked with fake lawn, blankets, umbrellas and milk crates.

We slowly settle down in the corner on some hessian cushions and admire this little patch of adult playground: the tartan blankets and records-cum-coasters are a sweet thought and would be perfect for sprawling on the astro-turf on a chilly evening with wine in hand.


Lemon lime bitters

The menu here’s largely focused on cocktails and small bites with an Asian-Mex bent. Agatha sips on a lemon lime bitters whilst I slowly lap up one of the cocktails off the black board specials.

Sloe ginger fizz: mix of sloe gin and elderflower with a hint of lemongrass (special) $16

The Sloe ginger fizz is pleasantly sweet and floral, finished off with a subtle whiff of lemongrass and a pretty curl of orange rind.

Dos Blockos $8

Although the focus is on cocktails they also have 2 bottled beers available. The waitress recommended I try the Dos Blockos: a Melbournian micro brew that’s a little denser than your average pale lager and comes in a branded paper bag which I found rather amusing.

Kalbi Tacos x2: Kalbi beef, avocado and hot sauce $10

Although the bar is almost empty, it takes quite a while for our tacos to arrive but we waited patiently in anticipation of some grilled soy-marinated beef deliciousness. The twins arrive and are very pretty indeed; with strips of beef propped up on a bright bed of carrot, cabbage and coriander. We take a bite but were disappointed to find the beef was cold and bland without the smokey sweetness you would normally get from a Korean grill marinade and the large portion of salad meant it drowned out any taste of meat anyway.

Broken Potatoes with paprika mayo and sage $6

It takes another while before out potatoes arrive, we’re relieved to find these are hot and crispy but noted that most of them had one side which was quite burnt and verging on being a little bitter from the charring, but by this point we’re hungry so we gladly coat these in the paprika mayo.

Miso Roasted Corn with fluffy Parmesan $6

Last to arrive was the corn, a simple enough affair which I rolled liberally on the bed of finely grated Parmesan.

A few more people arrive, we share a smile and nod before they settle down on the lawn with their drinks. The two of us can’t help but linger for a moment longer and watch as the hills hoist next door spins in the breeze under the fading rays of the Summer sun before picking up our bags and disappearing back onto the blur of King Street.

The Verdict
It’s a lovely worn-in space where you can get a quiet drink to the hum of inner-west suburbia; perfect for those moments when you don’t want to fight the peacocks or pokies for a spot at the bar. Perhaps we’ve been unlucky and visited whilst the kitchen was having a bad day (I’ve seen photos of the same dishes on other sites and they didn’t appear burnt or cold) but I personally would not return for the food. Cocktails and jugs of Sangria though, are a different matter.

Jester Seeds
a. 127 King Street Newtown
t. 9557 7008
e. info(at)jesterseeds.com
w. http://www.jesterseeds.com

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Sydney’s never been much of a secret city, we’re all nip & tuck, flash and show, social pages, champagne and technicolour; we leave the cobblestones and noir to Melbourne. If you really look though, you’ll see we can be a playful city too.


Taken by J. Pang

Located in by far the most secret location of them all, the only telltale sign of this new speakeasy is a trail of bright young things emerging from a fire escape in a dark driveway on an otherwise deserted Clarance street. Don’t worry it’s not a drug bust but some slightly inebriated customers leaving Baxter Inn: the newest child from the boys of the beloved Shady Pines Saloon. So if you’ve avoided Jason Scott and Anton Forte’s stellar initial effort because of a crippling doraphobia or peanut allergy then this new American sports bar should draw you back into the cool crowd.

We arrive late one evening and without having to wait (pretty chuffed especially having spotted a 1 hour queue at Shady Pines) down the rabbit hole we go and emerge in a lively underground Chicago sports bar. Candle and boxing memorabilia clutter the low underground space while a mixed crowd of suits and youths sip cocktails and whiskeys along to some old blues tunes.

Depending on who you ask these guys have either 150 or 300 whiskeys at hand, given I’ve probably tried about 4 in my lifetime both counts sound impressive to me. Inundated with choice (Whiskey cognescenti can choose their tipple based on region and age) I ask our bartender for his favourite and he pours us two single malts served neat over a block of hand chipped ice.

Glenmorangie Original 10 years $10 + Glenmorangie Nectar D’or 12 years $13

The original is incredibly floral and smooth and my drinking companion seems impressed. From the same distillery the Nectar D’or has been aged in hand picked French (Sauternes to be precise) casks and is quite sweet, this is definitely my preference although seasoned drinkers may find this too cloying.

If whiskeys aren’t you thing don’t fear, they’ve got a cocktail menu, beers on tap, wines and cognacs in the cellars and all the regular spirits at hand. Ask for your complimentary bowl of pretzels and I’ll wager you’ll lose a few good hours in this cosy hide away.

Who’d ever thought, we’d soon be out-Melbourning the Melbournians and I for one ain’t complainin’.

4

The Verdict
Easy going communal watering hole with fair priced tipples and the largest collection of whiskey at hand in the heart of the CBD. You hear that? It’s the silence of an office just emptied out. Join your friends there and play a little.

Baxter Inn
a. Basement, 152-156 Clarence St Sydney (walk down the driveway and turn right)
e. pretzels(at)thebaxterinn.com
w. www.thebaxterinn.com

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If you stalk food porn you’re sure to have encountered a post on the Dip and spied some glorious photos of chef Levin’s hotdogs, burgers, nachos and grilled corn. Just like with any kind of romance (ok so mine is with food don’t judge) it’s all giddy at the start when it’s new, but it has to evolve to stay interesting. So after celebrating 6 months of dungeon deliciousness the guys at Goodgod Small Bar’s canteen have done just that.

Arriving early (well technically late but early by our standards..and it turned out by everyone else’s too) for a gig we thought it best to sooth our stomachs with a bit of American comfort beforehand, as we sidle up to the counter I looked up and saw the black board shouting “New Menu!”. We took the hint and scanned the new cards which now featured an expanded list of hot dogs along with the addition of a summer salad and hot wings.

Anyway enough talk, time to get scrolling.


The Coaster punch jug: GoodGod’s orange margarita made with 100% blue agave tequila, cointreau, orange bitters & fresh orange $33

The guys have heaps of punch jugs on offer, we opted for something citrusy but found this a bit too sweet.


Mocktail (by request) $3.50


Salsa Fries: thick cut steak fries with fresh tomato salsa and cheese $7

The fries here seem to have a size crisis, the first time I had these they were deliciously crisp with a salty salsa but the serving was very small. This time however the size has doubled but they’re not as good as I recall with a saddening salsa to chip ratio.


Aperol Spritz $8.50

After the guys at 10 William St popped my Spritz cherry it seems like a good default drink to request, not too sweet, very drinkable and it somehow masks your inability to navigate around a drinks menu. On my last visit it was promoted as a special drink for $10 however this time it was somehow a cheaper item.


Confuse di Mouth: smoked kosher hot dog with melted cheese, dill pickles, grilled onions, american mustard and ketchup $12


Watermelon and Bacon burger (special): grilled watermelon, bacon, lettuce and onions $12

Although the new hot dogs sound amazing (who can turn down peppers with relish on their dogs) my curiosity kicked in when I spotted the special item. The idea of watermelon and bacon sounds like a rather dubious marriage but I put my faith in the professionals and those guys knew what they were doing! The watermelon was just a little sweet with the density of grilled cucumber and all the ingredients bar the lettuce spent some time on the grill making the overall flavour intensely smokey, we agreed this was a must have.


Lev’s Dawg: smoked kosher hot dog with chipotle mayo, fresh tomato salsa, grilled yellow peppers and american mustard on a steamed bun $12 + Southern Smoke: 12 hour smoked pulled pork sandwiches with bbq beans, apple and cabbage slaw and bbq sauce $12

We also tried some classics, the southern smoke’s still a winner with the beautifully tender pulled pork a dove tailed match to the apple and cabbage slaw. My face got a bit messy with the super soft damper bun but we all make do with life’s hardships.


Hot Wings: red hot chicken wings with celery and ranch dipping sauce $10

The hot wings have now made their way onto the permanent menu, they were adequately hot and salty but we were under the impression they were going to be fried wings speckled with chilli much like the ones at Norfolk so we were a bit disappointed. The chicken was overcooked and I had no idea what I was meant to do with the celery which became a bit of an after thought nibble once the wings were finished.


Ice Cold Guac: sweet avocado ice cream with strawberry salsa and waffle chips $10

I liked the idea of the Ice Cold Guac and was bemused by the idea of “Mexing” up the dessert with some waffle chips and strawberry salsa. Although the taste was quite decent the serving was rather small and the iced avocado too hard.

Peanut Butter n Jelly Sandwich: peanut butter ice cream with toasted brioche and strawberry jelly $10

Another entertaining reinvention, peanut butter and jelly cold sandwich with the jelly being a runny drizzle of strawberry sauce. This too I thought was on the small side and although not bad I probably wouldn’t order it again.

The Dip’s strengths lies in Levin’s barbecuing finesse with fantastically smokey burgers and delicious hot dogs. The team would likely benefit from hiring someone who has a bit more experience with desserts or maybe source their ice cream from the Messina boys who do a mean rendition of salty peanut.Having said that it’s a pretty chill place serving good dosh up til the wee hours and in a city like Sydney with limited supper venues we can only thank the Lord we’ve got the Dip.

Three out of five

Verdict
Totally no fuss and cheery food by an ex DJ cooking with a lot of love at this American style canteen. Although sometimes there may be a slight struggle with consistency (and I’m not a big fan of the desserts) it’s still hands down my number 1 choice when I’m in the city and looking for an easy late night feed. If the bacon and watermelon burger’s still lingering around on the specials board I’d recommend you give it a go. All the food requires you to dig in and get your hands dirty; just don’t come dressed in anything too nice or your dry cleaner might be a bit upset over the sauce stains.

The Dip @ Goodgod Small Bar
a. 55 Liverpool Street Chinatown
t. 9283 8792
e. do(at)thedip.com.au
w. thedip.com.au

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