Welcome to the first Sydney small bar to offer Chinese barbecue. Welcome, Sydney, to Arcadia – the bar where DJ Smokey la Beef is in the corner spinning his flavour of swampy jungle blues with a Caribbean twist. And nearly everyone drinking here sports a well-waxed moustache.
They have a stack of takeaway menus from Wah Fung HK BBQ Restaurant across the road. It’s a simple process, but you’ll want to make sure you’ve got cash on you. Ring ’em on your mobile, and they’ll deliver you a Peking duck (or chow mein, or roast pork, or any other standard Chinese classic you’d care to name check) with prawn chips, a big box of pancakes and all the usual trimmings. Better yet, the Arcadians will give you crockery so you don’t have to use your pants as a plate.
But if all that sounds like too much trouble, the guys behind the counter will knock you up a tomato, salami and cheese toasty on wholegrain or a bowl of nuts. This is a bar fuelled by friendliness – there hasn’t been a team this eager to please since Shady Pines first opened its doors.
Arcadia is brought to you by Brett Pritchard and David Jank. The two of them spent time behind the taps at the Old Fitzroy, before Jank upped pegs and moved to Berlin. It wasn’t till Jank came back to Sydney and saw how much the town had changed with the new licensing laws that he started discussing the idea of opening a bar with Pritchard.
At Arcadia Liquors, the cocktail list makes all the right noises (Manhattans, White Ladies, Sidecars) and they’ll cheerfully throw together an Old Fashioned (a shame about the flimsy ice, but hey – it’s completely delicious all the same and they’re not claiming to be cocktail nerds) or sling you a beer. And given they both come from pub-land, where pouring a good beer is about as important as breathing, you can be assured of quality tap control. There’s the crunchy, refreshing German brew, Spaten Beer, as well as a roving tap, which at the moment is a rich, golden natural lager from local brewers Young Henrys.
Outside, there’s a tropical little smoketorium, lined with wooden benches and a lot of ferns where you can practise the fine art of social self-poisoning. Inside, the walls are decorated with a mix of old Bakelite radios, vintage tables and chairs and salvaged paintings (y’know the ones you always see at Vinnies, with prize horses and doe eyed children staring blankly from the canvas). Big snaps, too, for the fact these guys did it all themselves.
Arcadia isn’t so much about ice hand-chipped from Poseidon’s tears or milk punch hand-squeezed from Hera’s right boob. They don’t do craft cordials and their soda isn’t blessed by unicorns. And that’s a big part of why we like it so much. It’s about great service, friendly vibes and super fun times.