The 100-year-old building housing Mary's has had a few tenants over the years. It has previously been used as a pool hall, a Greek men's club and even a sexual health clinic. But its latest incarnation is probably its best. That is, if you like drinking and you aren't an older Greek gent looking for your kinsmen.
Mary's owners Jacob Smyth (ex-Bodega) and Kenny Graham (ex-Gardel's Bar) got hold of the old pile of bricks last year. They gutted the inside and after a whole heap of elbow grease (and the help of some crafty relatives), spruced up the joint from top to bottom.
And so where does Mary's fit into the Newtown scene? “We're both Newtown locals,” Smyth explains. “And we got sick of just drinking in pubs. Newtown has got great pubs – and it's even starting to get good small bars like The Midnight Special – but we still thought there was a gap in the market for a good neighbourhood bar where you could just chill out with your mates…so you don't have to go over to Surry Hills.”
Inside Mary's, there's room for 82 people. The original floorboards have been retained and sitting on them are lovely wooden tables made from recycled railway sleepers. The long bar is also fashioned from recycled lumber and sits underneath the mezzanine level – a feature that was cleverly added during construction. Nice touches like the homemade Jack Daniel’s light fittings and the feature wall made of timber, inlaid with mirrors, adds a snappiness to the room.
At the bar, there's Resch's, Carlton and Young Henry’s on tap as well as some cheap brews by the bottle. The wine list features a great deal of French wine, most of which is bio-dynamic and organic. But before you go worrying about highfalutin wine talk, Smyth explains that they “pick the wine based on what we and our friends like drinking…[and] because it's delicious”. They also stock a couple of rare American bottles and also have plans to get their hands on some Italian vino. “Giorgio De Maria from 121 BC is going to hook us up with some bottles, but I think he's gone to Italy at the moment, so we'll wait until he gets back,” says Smyth.
Cocktails are a work in progress and subject to some tinkering down the line. At the moment, it's a short list comprising mixes like The Last Word with gin, Chartreuse, maraschino cherry and lime juice. But just ask and they'll happily make you up a classic as well.
Chef Luke Powell (ex-Tetsuya's) is currently in charge of the kitchen and his menu is concise. There are three burgers – the Mary's, the Cheez and the Shroom – and they're already getting burger aficionados into a lather. You can jazz up your sloppy joe with additions like trashcan bacon, which Powell prepares behind the bar in a large (admittedly very clean looking) garbage can. Elsewhere on the menu, there's fried chicken in various formats and sides likes mash and gravy, which aid in soaking up the suds.
Mary's is fun and it's going to be a hit. Yes, Newtown still has terrific pubs and, these days, a relatively happening small bar scene as well. But Mary's still fits in nicely. It is, as its owners have aimed for, a merry neighbourhood bar. We recommend you schedule a visit.
6 Mary Street, Newtown
Mon to Sat 4pm–midnight