It’s refreshing to see a new dining precinct in the CBD open up just a stone’s throw away from Pitt Street Mall. This is the courtyard area outside the new ANZ building on Castlereagh Street which boasts a variety of eateries ranging from Malaysian food at a Sedap stall, to salads at Stockmarket (yes UNSW kiddies, the same Stockmarket salad bar from upper campus!!) and a gourmet rotisserie. I’m looking forward to trying everything out eventually, but today I’ve chosen to check out The Local Bar which is looking like a popular Friday lunchtime choice judging by the crowds who are already there by 12 noon.
The Local Bar is the city based follow up to the Neutral Bay laneway bar of the same name, run by a celebrity team including George Gregan and Sam Neill. We’re charmed on first glance by the Parisian style sidewalk cafe chairs used for the outside tables but unfortunately, there were only tables inside left by the time we arrived. The narrow interior of The Local Bar is modern and sleek, but with a touch of warehouse in its feature wall that has its name emblazoned across it and the steel sheets used for the bar.
They have a different special meal for every day of the week and on Fridays it is Beer Battered Fish and Chips. I’m sold on the fish and chips by the caper aioli which comes with it, but they also have a tasty sounding selection of tapas and other share plates on their menu so we decide to get a Grilled Haloumi to share.
Beer Battered Fish and Chips with caper aioli, $19
The gourmet Beer Battered Fish and Chips that the Local Bar serves up is definitely one of the better renditions I’ve had of the classic meal. It’s a generous serving of two fresh fish fillets encased in light, crispy batter which has been fried to perfection (not too oily, not too dry). The caper aioli isn’t particularly punchy, but the batter on the fish is so tasty on its own that it doesn’t need a strong sauce. The thick cut chips are also done well, complementing the chunkiness of the battered fish.
Wagyu Beef Burger, $18
I had also been eyeing the Wagyu Beef Burger, but my friend got it instead and by all reports she enjoyed it. I also liked the shoestring fries that the Burger comes with, which were good for dipping into the caper aioli from my dish.
Grilled Haloumi with lemon, $12
Strangely, the Grilled Haloumi came out last as I was expecting it to come out before our main meals, but it more than made up for its lateness with its deliciously distinctive flavour and adorable presentation in a mini metal pan on top of the ubiquitous wooden serving block.
The Local Bar seems to hit the sweet spot for midrange dining with a solid menu, extensive wine list and gorgeous decor. I know I’ll be back, probably for dinner and drinks next time if I can snag an outside table.
The Local Bar
161 Castlereagh Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 8668 5357