I feel like I’ve been to, new Sydney bar, Surly’s before. There’s something familiar about the exposed brick walls, sports channel TVs and red neon signage. It could be because the American dive-bar concept is doing the rounds of Sydney like a ubiquitous fried-chicken-kimchi-taco. Or, it could that it evokes the backdrops of so many American movies—Coyote Ugly, anyone (BTW, how was that even a PG-rated movie)?
But this ain’t New York circa 2000, and I’m no Piper Perabo (though I wish I had her plait, and wide-eyed small-town sensibility). All three televisions are tuned to a different Australian football code, and the tap beer selection is thankfully free of Bud Light. I happily sip on my Blue Moon ale—the flavour of orange peel means I can get citrus kick without being a Corona sissy—while my plus one goes for a Sam Adams Boston Lager.
But now. Food. We make a beeline for the American BBQ plates, a selection of meats smoked in-house with seasoned woods, served with cornbread and two sides. Our chosen meat of beef brisket arrives thickly sliced, nestled in a plastic basket with plaid paper wrapping—more deja vu. It’s a good serving size, the meat a bit leaner than expected, but with an addictive spice rub that pairs well with a squirt of chipotle BBQ sauce.
We’ve snuck in an extra meat order of pork spare rib, and it’s the best decision of the night. Neanderthal-style, I fist-grab the bone and pull at the tender, smoky meat with my teeth, and beat my chest in triumph.
My dining companion has vetoed my side order of green beans for the BBQ beans. That’s right, we’re having barbeque protein with a side of barbeque protein. Luckily the beans are lusciously wet and smoky, and hold their shape. No mushy canned business here. Our second side of mac ‘n’ cheese is gooey comfort food. The cornbread is well-decent, a delightful sweet-savoury sponge to mop up the various juices and sauces. If only the chef replaced the mini-muffin mould with a giant rectangle slab…
The Philly Cheese steak sandwich arrives as a sub, filled to the brim with top-grade, juicy beef flank, and studded with onion and green capsicum (which, by the way, is our only green vegetable element of our meal). The menu promises that it will be glued together with provolone cheese… And we have made the grave mistake of not requesting more.
Take heed, kids—if there’s the option of more cheese, always take it. If you’re pondering a serve of spicy fries, do it. If you’re an aspiring prime minister, and spy the deep-fried whole onion, bite it. If you’re after barbeque, beer, and good times, hop to it. Because at Surly’s, when the sun goes down, you can’t fight the moonlight.
Image credit: Surly's