No doubt you’ve heard us wax lyrical about Chippendale. At Time Out, we’re a bit obsessed with the up-and-coming suburb, with its back-door jazz rehearsals in flop houses, burnt-down tattoo parlours, cutting-edge art galleries, same-sex salsa classes and now Freda’s - the new bar from Simon Cancio, Marty Campaign and chef Ibrahim Kasif. It’s amazing that Chippendale finally has somewhere cool to drink. Everything’s a smart-yet-simple affair here, from the evening menu to the daily sandwich specials. You can bet the bread's good, too. Cancio comes with quite the pedigree, having punched dough at Bourke Street Bakery and, more recently, at Newtown bread darlings Luxe.
The 100-year-old warehouse has been given a sympathetic refit, thanks to interior architects David and Philip Abram. Plenty of raw materials and big naked light bulbs illuminating the faces of happy punters gives the large room depth and warmth. Green blackboards advertise daily specials like sardines and chickpeas or braised peas on toast. On Time Out's visit there's a braise of broad beans, sweet, rich shredded pork shoulder and pickles, and carrot’n’carroway dip, all served with Cancio's excellent bread.
There’s an attractive list of cocktails including a 50/50 Sazerac (amazing!). Confusingly, it's served on ice, but it’s a well made drink all the same. A pink grapefruit fizz is a tall, sharp drink of pink grapefruit, gin, lemon juice and sugar shaken with an egg white and topped with soda. We dig on the Alaskan Highball, too: gin, green chartreuse and tonic make friends with a squeeze of lime - it’s a good one for summer. We’re keen to go back for the Midnight Negroni; the classic mix of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari is made with Caparno Rosso Antica formula - a rich, sticky vermouth with plenty of savour. That said, it’s pleasing to see lots of light, citrusy gear on the menu including a Southside (they do theirs with gin, lemon-juice sugar and mint). And just in case you really wanted to do some damage, there’s the Grapefruit Mezcal Margarita. Ouch.
Our only problem with the drinks is they take too long to make. We’re waiting 15 minutes for cocktails in an near-empty bar, and some of the folks on our table have only ordered bottled beer. It's a problem exacerbated when several waitstaff ask to take our order. It seems like the service side of things is a little slower to get off to a start than the rest of the operation. No worries there - time, the great healer, will have this place running faster than you can say olé! at your same-sex salsa class.