Where: Level 1, 42 Wentworth Avenue, Surry Hills 2010
Opening Hours: Mon - Sat, lunch 12pm - 2.30pm, dinner 5pm - 9.30pm
Phone: 02 8262 8888
Eating pub grub for life is probably not a lifestyle recommendation. The consequences would result in Surry Hills' hipsters taking on the appearance of those older gentlemen who've clearly inhabited local drinking dens every day for years, living on a pre-gentrified diet of greasy chips, crumby schnitzels and VB.
Pub Life Kitchen, on the other hand, is a lifestyle choice. Located above the Schwartz Brewery Hotel (formerly known as the Macquarie Hotel) on Wentworth Street, the venue is a hub for travellers from neighbouring backpacker joints.
To be fair, Wednesday nights are the main attraction. The far-out burger attraction. Pub Life's Facebook page will show the abundance of burgers dealt out weekly, from the School Kid Special with grilled chicken, peanut butter sauce and sour cherry kelly to a Pulp Fiction-themed Royal with Cheese, a David Blackmore beef wagyu pattie with prawn sheet and bearnaise sauce (all $15 with fries).
With an upper-end price of $18 per main, a $10 lunch offer, $12 Tuesday rump steaks and a modestly evolving menu, Pub Life Kitchen doesn't hope to spin heads but rather serve a hearty and heavy-loaded meal. The carmelised gnocchi with pumpkin puree sauce and pine nuts ($15) is mellow, satisfying and filling, but the wagyu schnitzel ($18) sounds grander than it actually is, with the accompanying dollop of mashed potatoes and a halved lemon missing a much-needed sauce.
Missing from the menu on the night was bone marrow on toast with braised eschallots ($12), which is the most appealing of the entrees, which include traditional fare like beer-battered scallops with a cheesy nap sauce ($8) along with curios such as thick polenta chips with jalapeno mayo ($8).
The burgers really are the specialty here, after previous backers Bill and Toni, the stalwarts of Stanley Street's Little Italy, moved on. Proprietor Jovan Curic, whose father has been the chef at Bill and Toni's since 1985, has shifted the kitchen away from Italian towards the current menu of upgraded pub grub, with a recently hired chef, Aaron Kerr, who arrived in February from Becasse.
With a recently dropped Bill a Toni and a Balmain branch that only opened in early 2012, it will be interesting to see how Pub Life Kitchen goes with the concentration on one kitchen. A long life expectancy, no doubt, if the burger lovers keep chowing down.
By David Lappin
Wednesday night burgers
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