On Redfern Street there’s an unassuming glass door with metal bars. Above it is a bright red and green neon “open” sign. It looks like the entrance to a kebab shop, but the red velvet laced staircase behind reveals something much more mysterious.
Nine months ago this was the entrance to Pron Prohm, a legendary, three-decade-old Thai restaurant known for its frozen-in-time ’80s decor. Now it has a new tenant.
Ron’s Upstairs is the latest venue from Brett and Susie Pritchard, Kim Fasher and David Jank – the team behind the excellent Arcadia Liquors, Redfern Continental and its backdoor cocktail bar, Gunther’s Dining Room. They were instrumental in transforming Redfern’s bar scene with Arcadia and continues to concentrate on the ever-evolving suburb.
Ron’s is steps from the owners’ other venues, and the old Thai restaurant was where Jank and the Pritchards spent many nights – which is one of the reasons they weren’t keen to tear it up. “A lot of people we knew came here to drink cheap Mai Tais and eat Thai food in big groups. This was a fun place. We wanted to keep it the same, we just restored it,” says Brett.
The botanical wallpapers have been refurbished, red carpet still runs around the bar, and the furniture is similar to the faded purple seats and lacquered tables that used to be there. Now though, thanks to a snaking trail of grape vines, dimmed lighting and croon tunes, it all feels charmingly like a mid-winter event in a European lodge.
There is a rotisserie run by ex-Three Blue Ducks and Est man, head chef Damir Mujanic. From the rotisserie comes preposterously juicy paprika-rubbed whole chooks with toum-style garlic sauce and a tart chilli dip. And a whole snapper in a brown butter and caper sauce. Order one and fill your table with sides – maybe charred eggplant and labne with house-made pita breads, or half a radicchio grilled on its side and dressed with blood orange, hazelnuts, maple syrup and goat’s cheese.
There are a few bar stools and the taps are pouring organic Sparrow and Vine wines from the Barossa, and there’s The Grifter Brewing Co. by the can. A short list of classic cocktails rounds off the list.
133A Redfern Street, Redfern
(02) 9699 2018
Tue to Thu 5.30pm–10pm
Fri & Sat 5.30pm–10.30pm