Food & Drink

Time Out (Sydney) - - THIS MONTH IN SYDNEY -

The latest restau­rants and bars re­viewed

Fi­nally, a Caribbean-themed bar that gets the hol­i­day vibes pitch per­fect. By Emily Lloyd-Tait Dream­ing of rum cock­tails and jerk chicken but can’t quite muster the scratch for a Ja­maican get­away? The latest bar and res­tau­rant to call Crown Street home is bring­ing is­land vibes to Surry Hills to save you a trip.

Rosie Camp­bell’s is the sec­ond ven­ture from the team be­hind Syd­ney’s favourite hid­den hot dog bunker, the Soda Fac­tory, and this time around they are head­ing south of Amer­ica’s East Coast for in­spi­ra­tion. You’ll find this lit­tle slice of par­adise on the Crown Street cor­ner that once housed the el­e­gant Bent­ley Res­tau­rant and Bar, fol­lowed by the short-lived Chow Bar and Eat­ing House. But the new regime is all about pri­mary-coloured fun and plenty of rum.

We defy you to re­sist the am­ber glow of the back­lit bot­tles that line the bar. Don’t be the guy that or­ders vodka. Yes, your cock­tail will cost the same as your meal, but that’s Syd­ney life for you, and the heady vanilla and cin­na­mon in the house Old Fash­ioned, built with rum, fruity sherry, mo­lasses and bit­ters, is just the thing to soothe the fi­nan­cial burn. Don’t stop there. A Trench­town Rock reins in all the sweet­ness of ap­ple­jack with bit­ters, le­mon, cin­na­mon and nutty al­mond flavours. Bal­ance is clearly a watch­word be­hind the bar and it re­ally shows in the Kingston Sour. Mez­cal and car­away seeds parry the rum with toasty flavours be­fore puck­er­ing up for a le­mon hit. Or you can sit on a round of Ja­maica’s lo­cal Red Stripe lager that is a maltier brew than your pub stan­dard.

They’ve kept the food sim­ple and given the ex­tra care to the drinks list, and it’s a plan that is pay­ing off. You know what goes great with a stiff drink? A juicy chicken thigh with a spicy, fra­grant jerk crust, some co­conut rice and beans and a side of a crisp car­rot, red cab­bage and green ap­ple coleslaw. A bowl of creamy mac and cheese with a ched­dar bite to the sauce is a damn good shout too. And ev­ery­body knows Syd­ney loves a burger. For­get beef and cheese though: the su­per crunchy, soft­shell crab num­ber here is a sand­wich sea change that’s well over­due.

We are to­tally on board with the hol­i­day vibes of this trop­i­cal haunt. Banana leaf and ze­bra stripe ta­bles, Stu­dio One wall pa­per, wo­ven lamp­shades and colour­ful wooden stools are all a bit of fun. But we’re not so sure about co-opt­ing the im­age of a Ja­maican mama on the logo and the use of Caribbean English ca­dence on the menus. It’s a theme inspired by a hol­i­day, but it might be step­ping a lit­tle close to cul­tual ap­pro­pri­a­tion. We’re un­de­cided. Check it out and de­cide for your­self.

Crown Street has lost some of its sparkle of late, with Billy Kwong de­camp­ing for Potts Point and lock-out laws bring­ing ev­ery­one low, but Rosie Camp­bell’s may just be the shot of sun­shine needed to perk it right back up again.

What goes great with a stiff drink? A juicy chicken thigh

Rosie Camp­bell's 320 Crown St, Surry Hills 2010. 02 8356 9120. www.rosiecamp­bells.com. MonThu 5pm-late; Fri-Sun 11am-late.

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