The Lans­downe Ho­tel

Time Out (Sydney) - - FOOD & DRINK - Jes­sica Teas

PRIME PO­SI­TION IN Syd­ney pub folk­lore couldn’t save rock’n’roll dive the Lans­downe Ho­tel from shut­ter­ing in 2015. But Jake Smyth and Kenny Gra­ham (the duo be­hind Mary’s and the Uni­corn) could, rais­ing the dead just two years on and prov­ing that some he­roes swap capes for flanno. The re­sult of their hard work is a study in beau­ti­ful de­cay – like an ar­chi­tec­tural Keith Richards – hon­our­ing the build­ing’s old bones with­out veer­ing into roset­inted nos­tal­gia. The dead wood of shitty pub fare and the dreaded pok­ies have been picked clean for the choice bits, like the bar, which now fronts an open kitchen send­ing out classed-up junk food good enough to lure in pun­ters on its own mer­its. Gi­ant rugs and real can­dles give you that Seat­tle­grunge-in-the-’90s am­bi­ence, with a black-felt pool ta­ble for ex­tra-strength late-night vibes and a tiny square of a disco-lit dance floor. The rock-chic love­fest con­tin­ues in Jess Cochrane’s sexy Play­boy mod-podge pop art mu­rals out­side, where in­die kids are smok­ing cig­gies like it’s still 2007. The first floor ban­d­room gives breath to Syd­ney’s oxy­gen­de­prived live-mu­sic scene – a few bucks and a wrist­band get you up­stairs ac­cess to the vel­vet ban­quette-lined, 250-per­son venue that man­ages to feel in­ti­mate for a folky show but gives you room to cut loose when King Tide or You Am I are on stage.

VB and Mel­bourne Bit­ter for the old timers are tapped next to craft beers like Young Hen­rys and Grifter. Cock­tail and wine lists are to the point – the for­mer just seven clas­sic drinks (Mai Tais and a Daiquiri with JD) and the lat­ter a smash­able short­list of bou­tique, nat­u­ral bot­tles from Ochota Bar­rels, Jauma and Good In­ten­tions. Here, pub wine is good wine. Forty-eight-hour-fer­mented dough cre­ates the golden, crispedged crust on the Detroit-style pan piz­zas they’re serv­ing – add LP’s Qual­ity Meats pep­per­oni to your Mo­tor City pie and you’ll never go Napoli again. Kim­chi beef rib pan­cakes melt in your mouth and leave you with a lin­ger­ing chilli burn; and the burg­ers are the greasy, cheesy fix you’d ex­pect from the Mary’s crew, though our bas­kets came vex­ingly liner free with kamikaze chips flee­ing through the holes. A fish fin­ger sambo on a soft sesame seed bun is stuffed with a qual­ity bit of fried white fish, melty cheese, tartare sauce and added ice­berg for crunch, vy­ing with Bar Ume’s fish katsu burger for the Filet-O-Fish fa­natic’s new love. Be­fore you start clutch­ing your heart, there are good green things on the menu, but if your stu­dent bud­get doesn’t stretch to the fancier fare, it’s just a ten­ner for a gourmet counter meal, so you can dine like a king on a per­fectly medium, grass-fed chuck steak smoth­ered in Café de Paris but­ter padded out with a gen­er­ous hillock of fries.

On a Satur­day night pun­ters pack out the place like a wa­ter­ing hole dur­ing dry season, every­one rub­bing along to Soundgar­den bel­low­ing through the speak­ers. So save the funeral song for some­one else, be­cause the Lans­downe has risen again, like a rock ’n’ roll phoenix, and it’s a glo­ri­ous sight to be­hold.

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