Tempura prawns are crisp and light in its golden brown crust.
This is great bar food, especially when dipped into a creamy preserved lemon aioli.
Watering holes around Sydney CBD used to be just that – places to grab a quick beer after work and not much else.
And considering the gastronomical profit margins that pubs make on alcohol, those days of pulling beer after beer and dishing out mediocre bar food for customers are well and truly dead in the beer barrel.
It began with the $5 steak at The Forresters in Surry Hills more than a decade ago. Today, pub food in Sydney has stormed up the culinary ladder like never before.
Chewy rump steaks with soggy chips, red sauce and creamy pastas are long gone. In place, we have gourmet sliders with soft shell crab, crumbed fish fillets, beer battered flatheads, pizzas with goat cheese and sundried tomatoes and grass-fed rib eye steaks.
With the kind invitation of 6dc Lifestyle PR, I am here at Customs House Bar with my friend Dancing Queen to sample executive chef Hemant Dadlani‘s new menu.
Customs House Bar, Sydney
When I was working in Sydney CBD many moons ago, I remember Customs House Bar to be absolute chockers from 5pm every Friday evening.
The forecourt would be packed to the rafters with suits having a drink after work to usher in the weekend.
Our friendly waitress Kelsea gives us a run-down of the specials of the day and as much as I was spying the slow-cooked beef ribs and Tajima wagyu beef burger, we are falling for the Good Food Month special beef cheek pie.
“The pie is $19 and it also comes with a Coopers Pale Ale for $6” she adds with a smile.
Dancing Queen is enjoying a fizzy mocktail of Orange & Lime Sparkling granita.
It is refreshing though she would have preferred a little less ice cubes on this skinny champagne glass.
The beef cheek pie comes with a quenelle of mashed potato, mashed peas, garden salad and a mushroom gravy.
The surface pattern of the beef pie pastry reminds me of my parents’ old leather sofa though a ‘Coopers’ beer stamp tells me it’s food I’m looking at.
Tender and chunky pieces of beef cheeks with green peas soak up a flavoursome mushroom gravy. Sadly, that’s about where it ends because the pastry is a dry and nondescript mixture of puff and shortcrust.
“What is this pastry?” Dancing Queen asks. “I don’t like it.”
“Neither do I” I reply.
The mashed needs more seasoning though this issue is easily fixed with the rich mushroom gravy. It’s a healthy version because more butter and full-cream milk would have given this mashed potato a lot more taste and creaminess as how a good one should be.
I am expecting a golden brown spatchcock but roasted young chicken comes in a rectangular plank of chicken pieces held together by two wooden skewers.
A dollop of chilli tomato relish add colour though I now know I would have order the slow-cooked beef ribs if this dish read ‘roasted chicken skewers’ as it should on the menu.
Vine tomato and watercress are appetizing with a tangy dressing while generous stalks of roasted Dutch carrots hide underneath the salad.
Soft white bread should not be in a salad as it becomes soggy with the dressing. Served on its own or toasted bread croutons would have made this salad a winner.
Tempura prawns (cover image above) are crisp and light in its golden brown crust.
Now this is great bar food, especially when dipped into a creamy preserved lemon aioli.
Our waitress Kelsie comes around to check on us every now and then. She is friendly, cheerful, enthusiastic about the food on the menu and eager to make our dining experience a pleasant one.
By far, she is one of the best I have come across in a very long time.
Though it’s spring in Sydney, a gusty wind is not helping a chilly eleven degrees Celcius today.
Luckily, overhead heaters and friendly Kelsie are on hand to keep us warm.
So dear readers, which is your favourite pub in Sydney and is there a standout dish that you enjoy there?
ChopinandMysaucepan dined courtesy of 6dc Lifestyle PR and Customs House Bar. All view and opinions are our own.
Customs House Bar
Macquarie Place, Sydney
Tel: +61 2 9259 7317
Opening hours:Monday to Friday 11am to late evening (Food served from 12pm to 9pm)