Sitting and sipping in Sydney's best small bars every Monday. Check here for regular reviews.
I had been super pumped for weeks about hitting up Since I Left You. I knew nothing about it except that it was named after a brilliant Avalanches song – a fact that had me doing a little jig in excitement. But as the Monday in question rolled around, I have to admit, I was a little, well, unenthused. Apparently I’d missed the memo that Sydney now has a monsoon season. I’m looking at you Tim Bailey. But brave it I did. I suited up in my wet weather gear [cough, looked forlornly at my hole-riven Converse] and trudged my way there. Now, not going to lie – at first I thought, due to the ambiguous sign, that Since I Left You was a men’s bathroom. Luckily for me, it wasn’t, and while I can’t guarantee no man has ever peed on that stretch of wall before, I can guarantee that this place is fantastic.
Let’s start with the bartenders. While the inhospitable weather (and a certain football match) may have been partly to blame, there were at least as many bartenders as there were customers. Every second person seemed able to clear your table or pour you a wine, and if you ever even approached the bar someone would jump up from a table nearby and pop around to take your order. All very friendly, all very knowledgeable. While this in other circumstances could have made you feel like you were intruding, for Since I Left You it just adds to the casual and intimate atmosphere.
Once again, toasties for the win in the Small Bar leagues. The Since I left You menu is all about the cheese and antipasto stuff. There’s a decent selection of cheese, antipasti and gourmet meats from which you can either make your own plate or your own toastie. And trust me, it gets better. The slightly misspelt dessert toastie had us drooling from the outset. As someone who goes through an unhealthy amount of Peanut Butter, I was biased from the get go. But every barhopper agreed that the Nutella, peanut butter and banana toastie was so sumptuous it was like eating Nigella Lawson.
Now onto the drinks. This is where you should really start getting excited. Why? Mulled. Wine. Nothing hugs your insides with a warm blanket like mulled wine, and their mulled wine is like a Snuggie for your stomach. The token almost-German barhopper (uni exchanges counts as citizenship right?) declared it to be the best mulled wine she’d ever had, and knowing her and her alcoholic tendencies, I tend to believe her. The rest of the drinks are nothing to scoff at either. The wine list isn’t crazy extensive but there’s enough on there to please everyone. This particular barhopper experienced way too much unbridled joy at discovering the Pinot Grigi-Joe on the menu. There are similarly punny-named shots, jugs and cocktails (think pop-candy dipped glasses), and while we didn’t make our way through them all (we tried our best), we sampled enough of them to know that two plus two equals five.
The thing about Since I Left You is that it’s all pretty minimalistic. The majority of the bar is literally – and I do mean literally, not I literally do not know how to use that word properly – just a couple of tables and chairs in an alleyway. But everything they do, they do so well. It’s clear they’ve carefully chosen every element with the precision of a Jedi knight holding an acupuncture needle. Yeah alright, not my best analogy ever but you get the picture. The result? A warm and cosy bar with a bit of a dark, gothic, almost 1920s prohibition feel about it. Somehow, with crazy small-bar-ninja skills, they’ve managed to carve out a beautiful and intimate hangout that makes you feel as though you’ve stepped out of your life for a little while. The start of the song goes ‘Get a drink, have a good time now, Welcome to Paradise.’ And while paradise makes me think of palm trees, toucans and coconuts, I think I like the Since I Left You paradise better.
Since I Left You
338 Kent St