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Gardel’s – a bar that can not be pigeonholed by genre nor geography. Where cowhide adorns furniture, alongside studded, crimson leather. Where cocktails garnished with a single rose petal are presented by tattoo-clad barmen in suspenders. Step out of the ordinary and into a bar where luxury meets the ranch.
When the barhopper’s walked through the door, we were greeted with the most divine (apparently Argentinian) smells wafting from the kitchen. We ascended to the bar, where we were swept away to a large table-serviced area, that felt a whole lot less like a bar, and a whole lot more like a restaurant. As nice as it is sometimes to be waited upon, this is not really my style – I like to spin a yarn with the bartenders, ask their opinions on drinks, and especially watch them create cocktails.
The service was really good (almost too good). Picture water glasses being topped up 3 times within half an hour. Before long we felt like we would be more comfortable sitting on the stools at the bar, but we ordered some food, and our first round of beverages at our initial seating.
Don’t fall into the same trap I did! I got excited and ordered the first cocktail I saw with ‘pineapple sorbet’ as an ingredient. While this was nice, if I had only looked a little further down the menu, I would have seen another one where the alcohol was RUM rather than sparkling wine, and rum is generally my drink of preference. The foods were tasty, and I believe reasonably priced for a student.
Once we migrated to the stools at the bar I felt instantly at home. Not due to deep-seeded alcoholic issues, nor because I could see my own reflection in a long mirror behind the bar – not a matter of vanity, but rather a novelty for me “hey look it’s me!”… The bar tenders were so friendly, and instantly started querying us on what kinds of alcohol we liked, to better recommend a cocktail. They were more than happy to make something that wasn’t on the menu, or alter the ingredients of one that was.
The American rockabilly tunes, mainly consisting of Elvis no longer felt out of place. I knew we made the right choice in moving when the bartender made our first cocktail and shook it up SO vigourously that we all inadvertently stopped and stared. He looked up at us and said in a charming Irish accent “I get that look every time.” Who cares anyway, the cocktail was amazing, and served in a teacup.
It was quirky. As soon as I stopped trying to figure out what was going on, and whether or not I should be pretending to be upper-class, I had a great time. A lot of small bars in Sydney are like a one night stand – “That was a great night, but I won’t initiate going back. No hard feelings, but I want to try new things.” Gardel’s is one of the very, very few places that I actually want to go back to.
358 Cleveland St, Surry Hills