Remember when everyone scoffed at restaurant franchises? Okay, fast food corporations are different beasts, but all of a sudden smaller, cooler entrepreneurs are taking over Sydney with doppelgangers of existing venues. The latest is the third Li’l Darlin bar, following branches in nearby Darlinghurst and Randwick.

Not much has changed here; the menu is identical to the other two and the general vibe (fake trees, fairy lights, shared tapas and rectangular pizzas) remains, but this corner venue is cosier. Formerly a patisserie, the building has seen a few management changes over the years without much success, but Li’l Darlin seems to have cracked it. Within a week of opening, the bar is full, helped by a few introductory offers of cheap cocktails and $5 pizzas.

The Darlinghurst venue got into a bit of ageist bother in May when a waiter was fired after writing “old people” onto a receipt for a group of slightly older customers, who picked up on the discrepancy on the bill. At Surry Hills, the staff are eagerly attentive and the crowd is quite varied, in age and fashion sense. The emphasis is on sharing, with large tables to accommodate groups or to encourage mingling.

This feels more like a bar than the Darlinghurst outpost of Li'l Darlin, with more drinks flowing, and in this capacity, the food is excellent and inexpensive.

Li’l Darlin
Corner Devonshire and Elizabeth Streets, Surry Hills
(02) 8084 6100

Daily from 5pm