Bars and Nightclubs
Sydney CBD, Sydney

Gardel's Bar

358 Cleveland Street
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There is a very distinct and welcoming smell of wood and coals burning on the barbeques from the homes and restaurants in Argentina. It is a smell that tells you dinner will be ready, maybe not anytime soon, but it’s cooking. The owners of Bodega have bought their love of Argentina to Surry Hills with their restaurant Porteño.

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Gardel's Bar Review

Review by Robert Kennard

To put it bluntly, Gardel’s is one of the best bars I have been to in Sydney.

Perched atop the bloggers, hen’s parties and urban locals that flock to Porteno, the bar is in an altitude of it’s own cool. I would go so far as to say it maintains this atmosphere effortlessly, but judging by the amountof Bryll cream in my waiter’s hair, it would be prudent to suggest otherwise.

My visit to Gardel’s took me to the bar on a Friday, midnight. As a gaggle of gangly, expertly coiffed waitstaff were walking out, I was cordially greeted by a suited doormen, politely directing towards the black staircasebehind him leading to the bar. It’s a throwback to an era that is more than welcome in Sydney’s proliferation of socially inept bouncers.

Upon arrival at the top, the grandeur of Gardel’s hits my companion and I immediately. The split-level drinking area has been transformed with mid 20th century luxuries: palatial palms, glorious cow hide floor coverings,endless bluesy tunes and plush chesterfield sofas fill a room that channels an ambience somewhere between Rick’s café in Casablanca and a Mad Men tea party.

Service is similarly flawless, with the (uncoiffed but red-lipped) host directing us towards an intimate table. The real winner, however, is the extended bar and kitchen hours at this late night watering hole: our last drinks were called at half past one in the morning, with the kitchenclosing a few minutes earlier (Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only).

With several categories of cocktails ranging from Gardel’s “latest imaginings” to “old faithfuls”, I decide to start classic with a New York Sour (rye whiskey, lemon juice, sugar syrup, egg white and Malbec, around $18), the citrus cleanly counter balancing the malbec and whiskey.

If you’re in for something flighty and flirty, try the Mistress Jerry (Sailor Jerry spiced rum, honey and ginger syrup, lime, raspberry puree,also around $18), a cracking combination of berries warmed up by the rum and gingersyrup.

Wine by the glass is an expensive and entirely Argentinian affair here.Prices start at $11 by the glass, and most are $14 to $16. Sampling anumber of the cabernet and malbec options, I can recommended the 2007 MilPiedras Sangiovese from Mendoza ($12.50), which safely navigates throughthe titillating food options. Options, I might add, that includes the nowfamed chipotle mayo chilli dogs, pulled pork sliders ($4.50 each), andSicilian-esque olives ($6).

For something more substantial, go for the beer and miso marinated lambribs with cucumber ($14). While my companion found the meat too fatty, thewelcome relief in the citrusy salad proved to be a refreshing accompanimentto the sweet and fatty ribs.

And of course there is the chorizo. Topped with grilled octopus, potato andsofrito ($14), I have to warn that trying these is at your own detriment,as the four pint-sized portions left me begging for more.

Gardel’s is too good to call my local. It’s a place of old world servicemeeting 21st century tastes, a rare but valued anomaly in Sydney’s optionsfor later night watering and feeding holes. In short, it’s bar royalty.

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