The street-front balcony at the London Hotel is some of the most prized real estate in Balmain, and that’s saying something in a suburb where the average house costs close to a million bucks. But as the face of this formerly-working-class-and-now-gentrified-as-all-get-out suburb has changed, the gallery of faces perched up above street level at this main street watering hole has never diminished. And there’s good reason too. Firstly, they serve Redback on tap and have done since long before the rest of Sydney’s pubs developed a taste for craft beer. They serve it in tall glasses with a slice of lemon at the bottom. When you are stinging for a drink a frosty glass of wheat beer is the closest thing you’ll find to ambrosia. The friendly staff will just as readily sort you out with a James Squire American pale or copper ale, a Stella Artois or a Coopers brew that comes in three colours: red, green and dark. If you can’t find a spot out on the balcony then head indoors to perch on the heavy wooden stools or just lean up on the brass-lined bar. Upstairs there is a high-end dining room where steak is the drawcard and downstairs things are low key. You can get nachos, fish and chips or four kinds of schnitzel. They also do a pad see ew or a nasi goreng but Balmain is generously endowed with Asian restaurants so you’re probably better off sticking with pub classics. The soundtrack is early funk and soul, there’s ice hockey on the TV and you can bring your dog – all good reasons to love this local.