Vibe: 4 stars
Design: Ernest Hemingway would approve of the dark petroleum coloured walls, marble top tables and Louis XV inspired wall sconces and bar.
Food: 2.5 stars
Damage: what you’d expect from a hip Sydney bar; $4-22 mains; $15-20 cocktails
UPDATE JULY 2012: THIS BAR HAS CLOSED
13b is a safe haven of heaven against the bridge and tunnel invasion on a Friday night in Surry Hills. Formally known as The Safe House, it’s a small bar in the truest sense of the word. It’s tiny. Right now thats OK coz its still blissfully under the radar. Something that surprised my pal and I when we strolled in at 8.30pm this Friday night with no booking. You can imagine our surprise to find this charming little nook blissfully devoid of Homo Sapiens Boganis especially having just followed a mass pack of them down Riley St on our way to the bar. And that’s one of the supremely great things about Surry Hills. Around every corner, down a little laneway, up a flight of concealed stairs and through a non-descript door is potentially a golden little nugget of a bar or restaurant just waiting to be discovered.
Located at the hippest address in town right now, the triumvirate of Dr Pong, Commons Local Eating House and Pocket Bar, Burton St north of Oxford (Bur-No-Ox) 13b Burton St, Darlo is a wine-bar-cum-bistro intriguingly named 13b, of course, after its address.
Intimate coffee den by day, wine bar by night, 13b is pleasingly minute with a limited charter, but one that it seeks to do well. That limited charter restricts itself to a small menu of mod-oz classics and a few whacky tapas style plates for good reason. The kitchen is small and the experience behind the bar is really the key selling feature of this joint. Cocktails both old school and new are really what sets this place apart. With a sassy nod to the Prohibition era, the cocktail list reads like an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel and takes in old classics like the Negroni, but spices things up by conga-lining it down to the Caribbean (Rum replaces Gin) with their original take on the martini. On our visit, we worked our way through the list by starting with the Maple Rose (Maker’s Mark, maple syrup, lemon juice, with a rosemary garnish), tripped onto the signature 13b martini, a refreshing concoction of watermelon, kaffir lime, herradura blanco tequila, pomme verte with a hint of apple, until finally weaving our way merrily towards the Don Corelone. It’s a testament to the power of this drink that I can’t actually remember what’s in it – rest assured, it was good!
Personally, I wouldn’t go to 13b for the food. I’d go back for the welcoming and embracing Paris-after-dark vibe, the stupendously good cocktails and a smile from one of those hip bartenders. Apparently the coffee is top notch and the weekend breakfast worth the trip, but I’ll have to leave that review up to you guys….surryhills2010 is onto the next hip joint on your behalf.
13b Burton St
P: 02 9356 8718
Tuesday – Saturday: 7am – Midnight
Sunday: 8am – 4pm