The Balmain Pub Group has renovated Erskineville's old Kurrajong Hotel and renamed it Swanson Hotel.
Cane lounges sit near the entrance, high tables and stools line walls dotted with bird illustrations and a row of leather booths hide off to the side. The rectangular bar is a handsome affair, all dull grey tiles bordered by dark wood trim. There's also the odd palm frond, a crackling fireplace and a zebra head mounted on a wall. The missteps include the huge television above the fireplace and the screens inlaid above the bar – their flickering proves entirely distracting. The TAB and pokies are, mercifully, tucked out of sight.
At the bar you'll find White Rabbit, James Squire and Young Henry's Newtowner on tap, as well as a wine list featuring New Zealand whites and South Australian reds. The bar menu offers fancy takes on pub fare. Tuck into White Rabbit beer-battered fish or wagyu beef and ale pie with garlic mash.
Upstairs, the Swanson really hits its stride. There's a marble bar, solid black tables and chairs and a splash of colour courtesy of some elegant floral wallpaper. Head chef Brad Sloane from the Riverview has created an impressive menu. Entrees include pork terrine with piccalilli and sourdough, and kingfish carpaccio with Jerusalem artichoke, fennel and grapefruit. For mains, try chargrilled spatchcock, black angus scotch fillet or poached salmon. Finish with a chocolate and strawberry salted peanut sundae smash.