Ask anyone about the best spots for a drink in Surry Hills, and Forrester’s would have to be in the conversation. This 100-year-old pub was taken over by Applejack Hospitality (Bopp and Tone, The Botanist, The Butler, Rafi) in 2020, who gave the venue a $1.5-million makeover and a new lease on its already long life.
The Forry, as it’s affectionately known, is split into four separate spaces to drink and dine. The Public Bar up front is where to go for an afternoon pint, and has retained much of the pub’s original character, with exposed timber beams and weathered hardwood floors. Phylli’s is a complete contrast – a bright dining room filled with plants and splashed with a mural by Sydney artist Mielo.
Connecting Phylli’s and The Public Bar is The Art Room; a cosy and intimate space perfect for catch-ups over a quiet drink. As the name suggests, works by local artists are exhibited on the walls – and they’re also for sale if anything catches your eye.
The last piece of the puzzle is found upstairs, which acts as a function space for hire (with its own dedicated bar, kitchen and unisex toilets) and a destination for trivia and live entertainment.
If you’re here for a bite, the menu is available in all spaces, and is inspired by Surry Hills’ history as rolling farmland. Grazing dishes include falafel with tahini, lemon and chopped chilli; and crispy chicken wings with fermented chilli mayo for dipping. As well as hearty salads and pub classics like schnitzels, steaks and burgers, Forrester’s does a signature roast of the week unlike anywhere else. Picture roast meat, crispy potatoes, peas and carrots served inside a plate-sized Yorkshire pudding – plus plenty of gravy for drenching.
For drinks, there’s a big emphasis on local beer (on tap and by the tin) and new-wave winemakers from around the country. A tight list of house cocktails includes twists on the classics, along with a seasonal list that might feature a Tomato Martini (Four Pillars Olive Leaf Gin, Regal Rogue Daring dry vermouth, tomato, sea salt, cracked pepper, herb oil) and a Kiwifruit Tommy’s Margarita.
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