The Norfolk is one of those pubs that means a lot of things to a lot of people—and now it’s entering a new era, helmed by a brand new hospitality group called "The people_" keen to bring something totally fresh to Sydney’s pub scene.
The Redfern boozer shot into the limelight under the Drink ‘n’ Dine crew around 2012 with the seafood shack-inspired House of Crabs upstairs and the sort of low-fi, American dive bar look and feel that became their blueprint for a new genre of pub life in Sydney.
Fast forward almost 10 years—and it’s time for something different.
Led by CEO, Andrew Taylor, and creative director, Paul Schulte, The people_ have also snapped up The Kurrajong Hotel in Erskineville, Town Hall Hotel and The Exchange Hotel in Balmain, and The Exchange and The Strand Hotel in Darlinghurst.
Their plan is to reinvent the local or the pub down the street as a chilled-out creative hub for relaxed drinks, eats, city staycations, and even working too—with both co-working spaces and accommodation added into the mix. Basically, forget the sticky floors and plastic bibs of yesteryear, and think casual pub-meets-boutique hotel.
As for what’s new at The Norfolk—well, settle in. Now filled with natural light, potted plants and white-washed walls, the pub has been renamed The Norfolk House & Hotel, and includes two reimagined bars, a brand new menu, a refresh for the beer garden, soon-to-be complete boutique accommodation, and yep, room to whip out your laptop and shoot off some emails too.
Downstairs, Taylor and Schulte are keen to dial the legacy of the pub’s beloved leafy courtyard, hoping to create Redfern’s best backyard with a fancy $25,000 16-spit roast barbeque installed for Sunday Roasts and sausage sizzles. Overlooking the courtyard is a garden room, fitted with a large timber dining table available for group bookings. You’ll also find a TV room with the original working fireplace too.
Upstairs, “The House” has been designed to feel like an extension of your living room. The cosy co-working space offers free and fast wi-fi and ergonomic seating from 10am - 5pm, Monday through Friday. There’s also a large private room slash board room created for meetings and private dinners, with a separate bar and media space, projector, gaming consoles, and Apple TV.
Behind the new menu is The people_ Group Chef, Sam Bull. "Our food philosophy is simple; relaxed, delicious, for everyone," he explains. "Taking inspiration from my family backyard BBQs, our signature Brazilian BBQ will take centre stage."
"We’ll be firing it up daily with a varied menu of Australian favourites using quality seafood, meats and veggies to reflect the diverse multicultural community we have in Australia. We want people to feel relaxed, and at home in our house just like at any gathering in your mate’s back yard.”
Sunday roast at The Norfolk will include wagyu rump, BBQ prawn, and smoked pork sausages from LP's Quality Meats. Pub classics like burgers, schnitzel, and T-Bone steak are also on the cards.
Award-winning bartender Tim Philips-Johansson is in charge of drinks, and a bunch of sip-worthy signature cocktails will be available (like a banana mule, jalapeño mojito, and Toucan Sam Negroni), as well as an edit of tasty wines by the glass and bottle.
The second phase of the major reno includes a Spanish wine deli and bar downstairs, and a suite of plush hotel rooms, designed for travelling workers, those looking to skip the Uber ride home after a few too many, and longer-term stays too.
The Norfolk House & Hotel is due to open next week, pending lockdown restrictions. More info is here.
Image credit: Kitti Gould