Sitting and sipping in Sydney's best small bars every Monday. Check here for regular reviews.
As seems to be requisite for small bars, the entrance to Freda’s Bar is at the end of an unassuming alleyway. The street style posters pasted one after the other on the wall was my clue I was in the right alleyway.
I was momentarily put off by the very nondescript grey door, but upon pulling it open I was greeted with a jovial atmosphere, the bar comfortably full for a Monday night. The warehouse feeling had been preserved and the room felt almost cavernous, with exposed wooden beams for a ceiling and pipes running down the walls. Boarded up windows and bare light bulbs hanging from their wires added to the industrial-meets-warmth effect quite suitably.
I found a familiar barhopper face at the bar (how appropriate!) and we all settled into a corner table. Service was both friendly and swift, with a bartender explaining the chalkboard menu to us. Freda’s changes their selection of simple tapas style specials daily; most of them come with a side of delicious chewy sourdough and sit between $7 to $18 per plate. We shared a yoghurt dip, a Russian salad and sausages with garlic aioli. All were tasty and lightly flavoured but just enough to make you go back for that next slice of bread to pair it with. The sausages were strangely missing the garlic aioli and seemed to come instead with some sort of sauerkraut / ginger topping, which was nevertheless quite tasty.
The cocktail menu spanned a fair few pages, leaning more towards the traditional liquor based drinks, and this was where the bartenders were as helpful as they were friendly. As we enquired about the list, the bartender almost rubbed his hands with glee and replied “Yes, let’s talk cocktails!” Custom creations are welcome, and a few questions as to your favourite drinks sets you on your way to a personalized cocktail. One of the barhoppers, upon wondering aloud whether a cocktail would be too bitter to her taste, was offered a tiny jug of sugar syrup to add at her discretion. Now that’s customization. If only they would offer us a bottle of vodka to add at our discretion mmm? No? Ok.
The wine list seemed to follow small bar tradition of offering one of each variety, each obviously well chosen and our selections were delicious. Prices for both cocktails at $15 – $17 and wine at $9 – $14 were fairly standard.
After hopping bars that were designed to accommodate 30 or less people, Freda’s was refreshingly medium sized, with one of the clear advantages being that we didn’t have to breathe in every time we wanted to hop up from the table and make our way to the bar. Not that you have to leave your table if you don’t want to, the staff make sure you’re well looked after right where you are. It also means it’s a great watering hole for groups, no huddling around tiny round tables for two; drag tables together and scrape up some mismatching chairs, Freda’s is comfortably accommodating.
At just a short stroll from central station, I really wish I’d taken the time to visit Freda’s during my uni days, seeing as they also offer lunch, it would be a great spot to kill a two hour gap in. The good service and ever changing menu is a great reason to head back though, so for future reference I’ll be scheduling all client meetings at Freda’s, ok?