Forrester’s Returns! Spritz, Latino bites and good times

There are things in life that just get better with additional love and time; that ‘blankie’ you had as a 4 year old, those comfortable jeans you can’t let go of and the final song at your year 12 formal.

Forrester’s Pub on the corner of Riley Street in Surry Hills has been a much loved watering hole for almost 100 years, it’s seen different owners, changes of prime ministers, generations of friends and family along with periods of being laid ‘fallow’ to rest.

It took hospitality favourites, Applejack to rescue this local gem and bring it back to life. A budget of $1.5m doesn’t get you much these days but the renovation its both sensitive to its history and of this era, reflecting a new, more feminine, organic and lighter approach to interior design.

Its broken into three areas. Right now, you will enter through the main bar; it’s a space for those who love a pint, a chat, sport and big screens! We keep on walking and enter Phylli’s restaurant (in keeping with their trend of naming venues as a tribute to family members) it’s all about spritz, bites & good times. Upstairs is a venue area for hire (formerly a great Jamaican restaurant) and will be holding comedy nights in the future.

Its Phylli’s that we really love. We find a corner table. On a Friday night this place is jumping with hipsters, ‘after workers’ and everyone in between! This is food which goes beyond the burger to North, Central and Southern America with creative and unpredictable Latino influences.

Head Chef Jon Barrios (BotanistBopp & Tone) and Applejack Executive Chef Jason Roberson lead the charge which starts with a stunning plate of coral and gold Ōra King Salmon Tiradito. If you haven’t had it before its is a Peruvian dish influence by Japanese immigrants but the likes of Nobu made it famous. Slices of raw King Salmon are cured and curled in a leche de tigre base of celery, garlic and ginger. Its a cunningly difficult balance of acidity, creaminess, and richness. A plate of golden empanadas showered in cheese and stuffed with slow cooked beef cheeks are even better when dunked in two sauces of creme and tomato. We skip over the ‘Use Your Hands’ section of burgers and sandwiches and head to the main event. A base of lusciously sweet pumpkin mole is topped with crispy skinned barramundi fillet and dotted with a bean salad. We add a handsome juicy half roast chicken which has been sectioned (so we dont have to wrestle with it). We pair it with cauliflower spiced with achiote paste – a flavorful mix of annatto seeds, garlic, chilies and bitter orange juice languishing on a bed smoked almond cream. It’s a ‘take that’ (and then some), slap to over used hummus!

Drinks are fun and fabulous with a range of artisanal beers on tap such a Moon Dog and a dedicated spritz menu. Our ‘Ginger includes Adelaide Hills Distillery ‘Better’ Gin, bianco vermouth, ginger, honey, Pet Nat, soda, rosemary. Delish. Hats off to Group Bars Manager Lachy Sturrock and somm Dan Simmons, who have curated an all Aussie line up focusing on growers and producers who celebrate sustainable, organic farming.

Forrester’s has always had its place in our hearts and on a special street corner of Surry Hills. Now is fulfills another role, one of purpose for its community that have missed it, for celebrating a cuisine whose naunces are rarely celebrated and for supporting Australian producers and famers who are putting smiles back on our faces – that’s before the comedy nights even commence.


Forrester’s, 336 Riley Street, Surry Hills, 2010, NSW

Bottomless Rose: It’s happening every weekend in Phylli’s restaurant. Start with a rosé spritz on arrival before treating yourself to 2 hours of bottomless rosé and a shared feast for $79 per person. Check out the full menu and book HERE.

About the author

Karen’s corporate job back in the UK had included entertaining clients in some of the best restaurants. This ultimately sparked a curiosity 'Just how do they do that?' (she confesses she was brought up on meat and vegetables, so this was all very exciting). Currently a Mr & Mrs Smith 'Tastemaker', she’s flashpacked around the world, learning about wine, experiencing different cultures and cuisines and had a two- year love affair with it all. Originally from England, she finally settled in Australia and continues to be besotted by food, wine and travel preferring to focus on the luxury end of town (thread count does matter).


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