Time Out Sydney

Surry Hills’ cocktail credentials are all in order now that Gardel’s is back

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and in the three months that Gardel’s spent closed following a fire at the Porteño premises, we missed the hell out of this excellent cocktail bar. But Cleveland Street shines a little brighter now that the doors are again open, the meats are roasting, the rockabilly’s cranking and we once again have a Banana Old Fashioned in our hand.

The same recipe that has graced the menu here since day dot still sees them soaking sliced, fresh banana in a jar of Jack Daniel’s for a full week before straining it out (apparently someone’s mum uses it for banana bread). The fruity bourbon is then mixed with bitters and a smoked maple syrup. It tastes like caramelised bananas cooked over a campfire, but with a boozy hit that suggests you shouldn’t leave it near an open flame. For something light and bright to lift your spirits, without drowning in them, head bartender Mikey Nicolian offers up a Sherry Cobbler. The bouquet of fresh orange and mint smells as sweet as fruit punch, but what you’re drinking is all smoky, dry refreshment thanks to Tío Pepe fino sherry.

It would be too easy to spend all our cash on cocktails here (we’ve done it before) but it you want to slow things down, a crisp Alhambra 1925 is the Spanish answer to a Peroni, or you could smash an Argentinean Salta lager. Wines by the glass are flying the flag for the Americas and you could do worse things with your evening than spend it with Wild Bunch’s Zinfandel, a Californian red with a muted fruitiness balanced by a gentle, mineral finish.

Everything may be shiny and new in Gardel’s 2.0, but it’s also still the same; the mirrors above the bar, pressed silver ceiling and red leather padding underneath the counter have all been put right back where they belong. And the tiny glass deli counter is back in pride of place at the top of the stairs and filled with house-cured meats, cheese and pickles. They can all be yours for $28 with the Chef’s Selection. Slices of Barossa wanera washed rind, a gentle cheddar and Gippsland’s impossibly creamy Shadows of Blue are joined on a metal tray by tender, fatty cured pork belly, pepper-spiced coppa and a bresaola that’s setting a new bar for intensely flavoursome beef. Cutting through the cheese and meat party is a pickle selection that includes whole okra, the earthy funk of radish, and some sweet spooning crescents of celery. And we’re not done yet, folks. There’s quince; bread; short, buttery crackers and all the green olives anyone could require in a single sitting.

They’ve done such an excellent job at rebuilding that it’s almost impossible to tell that 2015 has been anything other than smooth sailing for the beloved Sydney restaurant and bar. And by picking up exactly where they left off, we get to rediscover why we love it here all over again.

Who won the Sydney bar awards?

Updated on 15 May 2015.

By Emily Lloyd-Tait   |   Photos by Anna Kucera

Gardel's Bar details

358 Cleveland St, Surry Hills 2010

Telephone 02 8399 1440

Price per person including drinks $10.00 to $50.00

Open Tue-Sat 6pm-late

Gardel's Bar website

Gardel's Bar map

Report a problem with this page

Restaurants and bars nearby


10m - Porteño is awesome. Always has been, really, since the day it opened those...

Dr Faustus

66m - Dr Faustus sold his soul to the devil for power and knowledge. On a...

Nourishing Quarter

71m - What  Gluten is the protein found in wheat and alternative grains...

Twig Cafe

90m - Twig is a lovely little cafe tucked in behind Garden Life on Cleveland...

More restaurants and bars nearby

Other venues nearby

Dolly Up

102m - Dolly Up specialises in vintage bridalwear and designer dresses for special...

Riderfood Warehouse

144m - This warehouse space, set in an 1880s heritage loft, is used for screenings...

More venues nearby
Tiger Woks of Art

Tiger Woks of Art

Get to the Soda Factory to see art made from Singapore woks by hip Sydney practitioners

Taste of Sydney

Taste of Sydney

Feast on four days of incredible food and wine at this annual food and drink festival in Centennial Park

Readers' comments, reviews, hints and pictures

Community guidelines

blog comments powered by Disqus

Get the Time Out weekend planner. Straight to your inbox, every Thursday.
Read more