It turns out the Annandale wasn't dead. The pub sat forlorn ever since brothers Dan and Matt Rule ceded control of it last year. Enter Oscars Hotels (owners of pubs like Bar Century, Strattons and The Belvedere) which snapped up the old boozer and has now reopened it.
The beer-soaked carpet, bare-bones interior and griminess are gone. In their place is a clean and pleasant pub to hang around in. The renovation hits all the contemporary pub-furnishing trends: elegant lighting arrangements, exposed brick, and mis-matched vintage furniture. The main bar is now bright and shiny, and the back bar is focused on craft beer with taps dispensing brews from Young Henrys and Rocks Brewing Co.
Food includes toasted sandwiches (jerk chicken with ale cheddar, chicken sausage, jerk sauce and pickled onions), pork buns and empanadas. Plus there are pub standards such as fish and chips, burgers, nachos and steaks. It also does breakfast, serving hash-brown buckets, waffles and various fry-ups.
The band room has been re-jigged, with the stage now up against Parramatta Road. The new owners have committed to hosting live music three or four times a week, but the focus will be on acoustic, solo and bluegrass performances. The pub's general manager has been quoted as saying that those who want rock should shift their attention to the Lansdowne Hotel (which Oscars also owns).
The new Annandale will have plenty of detractors – it's not what it used to be and makes no claims otherwise. Instead, it's an uncontroversial pub offering something for everyone. And it will make a fine local. Whether that's what this city needs is another matter entirely.
17 Parramatta Road, Annandale
(02) 9550 1078
Thu to Sat 7am–1am
Sun to Wed 7am–midnight