There are many areas in Sydney I’m yet to see. Hell, I’ve only scratched the surface considering the cookie cutter sprawl that stretches to the Blue Mountains, south and northwest, but something tells me I’ll never quite get out and see it all. Strangely, there are areas that are much closer to home that I still don’t venture into. Like The Rocks, for instance. It’s less than ten minutes walk from my work and six train stops from my house. It’s vibrant, it’s historic, it has some great restaurants and it has a crap-load of tourists. I mean, why wouldn’t it?
I woke up with a burst of spontaneity one particular Sunday morning, thinking it’d be nice to catch the train into town, plough through the hoards fresh off a cruise liner parked at Circular Quay and sus out the markets along George Street north and a few of the side streets. As an out-of-towner it may come as an exciting exercise, looking at didgeridoo’s, caricature artists and predictable Australiana, but we couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
Leaving the stuffed toy koala’s and kangaroo scrotum coin purses behind, we head over and down the hill to Walsh Bay; that lovely waterfront enclave that’s home to linen-clad baby boomers with a yacht in the marina and holiday house on the South Coast. The few cafe’s and restaurants weren’t tempting enough as I was craving some pub grub so back up the hill we go, settling on Harts Pub, a place I’d been to once before.
These guys pride themselves on the beer they craft at the Rocks Brewing Company, which I love, but we weren’t here to booze our Sunday away. Ok, maybe just one beer, the Hangman Pale Ale. Love it! American style ale, great hop flavour and lingering bitterness. Yup, I’m a beer expert now. Not.
The food menu is a bit gastro pub, a bit American. I already knew what I wanted. The jalapeño poppers, the Southern-style pulled pork sandwich ($20) and the vanilla & beer malt panna cotta. Just a light lunch, with a pint of beer, you know. The poppers weren’t available, to my disappointment, so it was just the sandwich to start. Nice and generous with the juicy pulled pork, a little spiced, with carrot and fennel slaw on the side. The grilled corn cob was ok and the “cheesy potato croquettes” were basically very firm, crumbly and unseasoned potato mash with no cheese to be seen or tasted.
The pasta of the day ($18) was beetroot, fetta & walnut ravioli with fava beans and tomato concasse. A beautiful dish to look at and delicious as well. The walnut went unnoticed, but I can only assume it was ground and mixed in with the filling, very scantly. Still, I had a taste and I quite liked it. And good for me as I added the “cheesy” component to my potato croquettes myself by swiping a few pieces of parmesan from the ravioli. Aah, that’s how it should be.
I actually looked at the dessert menu before anything else, I know I’m not the only one that does this, keeping in mind the vanilla & beer malt panna cotta my tastebuds were already worked-up for. Just as the concept of eating jalapeño poppers was snatched away from me, so too was the panna cotta. Not available, sorry. Maybe one day I’ll go back to try them.