When Chippendale bar and live-music venue Freda’s announced its closure back in November 2020 it felt to many like the culmination of years of restrictive policy and lockout laws had conspired with Covid-19 to knock out one of the last greats of Sydney’s nightlife scene. Over almost a decade, the vibrant late-night venue had offered an inclusive, diverse space to party, as well as plentiful opportunities for musicians, DJs and artists to come together and share their work.
But Freda’s is (kind of) back, with a new eatery and wine bar on the iconic Taylor Square corner of Oxford Street – Cafe Freda's. It's a more adult iteration of the OG Freda's: a sit-down venue where food and drinks are the focus.
Abrams likens the light-filled venue, which offers plenty of outdoor seating out front, to the eateries and bars found in such cities as Paris, Berlin or Amsterdam. Its sunflower-yellow exterior rounds off the venue’s playful peachy, green and blue interior colour palette. Elements of its predecessor remain, with the bar top, shelving and lighting all taken from the original Freda’s.
Running the kitchen is chef Xinyi Lim, who was born in Sydney, but was based in New York until Covid-19 hit. She’s created a small but dynamic menu based on locally sourced, seasonal produce. The menu changes frequently, but you might come across a pickle plate of green plums and green tomatoes; an eggplant toast; grilled onigiri with shellfish butter; or tamarind pork shoulder.
Taking care of the wine selection is sommelier Darcy Creenaune Ellis (ex-Restaurant Leo, Berowra Waters Inn), who has created a diverse and fun list. It brings together classic varietals from Italy and France with natural wines by producers such as Bowral-based Ari’s Natural Wine. Like the food, the drops will change regularly. Beyond vino, there’s local beers and a range of cocktails.