It's amazing what a facelift can do for a 157 year old. Founded in 1857 by an ex-convict, the Charing Cross Hotel has been a local Sydney pub favourite for, well, 157 years. However, after decades of serving the good folk of the Eastern Suburbs, it was time for the old girl to have a bit of work done. Re-launching after an extensive renovation, the Charing Cross Hotel has been given a new lease on life. We checked out this new Sydney pub to get the lowdown.
With white polished concrete flooring, a high glass ceiling and courtyard lights imported from Paris that read, 'CHARO' (the locals' name for the hotel), the new space is fresh, modern, and very cool. Seating sixty in the dining room, the restaurant is designed to be casual and relaxed—somewhere that you can take your whole family for lunch or dinner.
Along with the revamped space, the restaurant has also been completely changed. The kitchen, headed up by British born, Matt Kemp (ex-Balzac), delivers English-inspired food that isn't in the slightest bit stodgy—no spotted dick here, guys! It's an accessible menu with the likes of pot-roasted shoulder of lamb and beer-battered local fish and chips gracing the menu.
A restaurant fantasy of ours is to boldly (and piggishly) say, 'one of each' and have every single menu item presented to us to gorge on. Unfortunately, the chances of this ever happening are slim to none, so we took to the painstaking task of choosing just a couple of dishes to work our way through.
Scanning through the menu, the crispy pigs head with piccalilli caught our eye. The pig's head has been braised in apples, stock, and vegetables before being formed into little bricks, crumbed, and deep-fried to perfection. Served with the house made piccalilli (English style Indian pickles), this was an excellent way to start.
Next up, a lighter option of lime-cured scallops, avocado, coriander, chilli, and grape tomatoes. This dish was so fresh and zesty, it tasted like summer in our mouths (which is always a good thing). Sticking with the seaside theme, we also opted for the pasta with spanner crab, cuttlefish, zucchini, and chilli, which was full of crab (not just one or two sad little pieces) and jam-packed with flavour.
For something a little meatier, we couldn't say no to the grilled rib-eye steak. Served with a slab of decadent Bordelaise butter and thrice-cooked fries, the steak itself has a beautiful char-grilled flavour that's offset by the creamy butter. It's a big call, but we're putting it out there and saying that this is one of the best steaks in Sydney. The thrice-cooked fries were more like wedges, but they were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Deeeeelicious!
To finish off we indulged in the peach, raspberry, and champagne trifle with white chocolate. Oh, what a way to end! The tartness of the fruit blended so well with the sweetness of the white chocolate. It was well worth the calories consumed and then some.
It's great to see a classic Sydney pub receive a bit of love and attention. With a new kitchen and new look, we hope the Charing Cross Hotel lives on for at least another 157 years!
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Image credit: Tanya Lee