It was an STI clinic (called the Sanctuary – how creepy is that?), a Masonic Hall, a Greek club and a pool hall. And now that unassuming little building next to Kelly’s on King is a small bar called Mary’s, brought to you by Jake Smyth (last seen working the floor at Bodega
) and Kenny Graham (one-time ace bartender at Gardel’s Bar
Well, it’s more of a micro-tavern really, with its blackboard walls (including one with Slayer scrawled across it, another with the wine list) and dark wooden furniture spanning across two levels. There are even lightshades made from old Jack Daniel’s bottles. As soon as they have a moment to go and pick it up, they’re installing a dartboard.
Mary’s offer bottled craft beers like Young Henry’s, Moo Brew and Mountain Goat. On tap there’s Resch’s, Carlton draught, Carlton black and Young Henry’s cider. For a bit of smashable refreshment, there are ‘tiny Heinys’ and VB throwdowns. But bartenders Jake Smyth, Kenny Graham and Lou Dowling also know more than a thing or two about wine. Their list leans towards the French and American gear with a bit of a biodynamic push.
Cocktails, made by Graham, are impressive. They’re doing a Malibu Daiquiri. It’s exactly what you think it is – a super-refreshing Daiquiri made on Malibu, which a bit like drinking tasty sunscreen. But the cocktail we most want to imbibe forever and ever is the Puritan: gin, vermouth, yellow Chartreuse, orange bitters and a twist, served up. They also offer a Dirty Old Bastard, which is their riff on an Old Pal – rye, sweet vermouth and Campari - soiled with Fernet Branca.
So these guys have nabbed ex-Tetsuya’s
head chef Luke Powell to run their kitchen. There’s been a lot of buzz about the burger at Mary’s. ‘Best burger in town’ is the word on the street. And the street is right. It is. If you’ve had a better burger in Sydney, we’ll eat the paper it’s wrapped in.
The burger in question has that softness that comes from the right mix of meat (two parts chuck, to a part each of brisket and rump), the cheese melted so it almost becomes a sauce on the patty and the sweet, soft bun that melds into the meat. We have ours with trash can bacon – bacon that’s literally been smoked in an (unused) bin.
You’re going to want some elbow-room when you order the crunchy, tender fried chicken. Get your birds half, whole or Larry (that’s two chooks broken down and deep fried in their enormous pressure fryer). Or – and this one’s for, well we’re not sure who – there’s the Thunderbird, offered once a day. That’s three chickens deep-fried whole, stuffed with cheeseburgers served on a bed of mash and gravy. Hey, hey, hey.
This is Kenny Graham and Jake Smyth’s bar baby. “To watch people drink grower-Champagne while smashing burgers and fried chicken, says Smyth, “is a dream come true.”