Darlinghurst faithful The Taphouse is back after a four-month closure, with 17 local beers on tap, a Cantonese menu and a revamped rooftop. The 130-year-old Flinders Street watering hole joins Applejack Hospitality’s nine-strong portfolio of venues, which includes the nearby Forrester’s. “It’s a wicked old site,” Applejack co-founder Hamish Watts tells Broadsheet. “It has so much character and all this charm. When it became available, it was a no-brainer for us.”
The pub’s “top to bottom refurbishment” highlights its heritage features. The ground floor retains its wooden floors, original tiling and tin-pressed ceiling, with new terracotta paint and dark timber bar stools. The rooftop is lighter and brighter with nautical whites and blues highlighting the relaxed open-air vibes. The middle floor is dedicated to trivia, events and match days. “It’s the ultimate place to go pre- and post-Swannies games,” says Watts.
The pub has kept the tap system built by the previous owners (and craft beer fanatics) Stomping Ground. Applejack teamed up with breweries all over Sydney – including Mountain Culture, Young Henrys, Grifter and Hawkes – to supply 17 taps with local craft drops. Another three will be pouring Applejack’s duo of house wines and a cider. There’s also an extensive wine list made up of bottles “raided from the cellars of the group’s Rafi and Bopp & Tone”.
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The drinks are an excellent match for the Cantonese share plate menu. Start with crisp-skin chicken legs roasted Shandong-style in a spicy soy-based sauce, and silky prawn wontons. Next, try a tangle of egg noodles topped with free-range pork belly and steamed barramundi with pickled chilli and black bean.
The menu was inspired by the multicultural pubs of London, where kitchens are often leased out to restaurants serving various styles of cuisine. “We got super excited about drawing on [Applejack culinary director] Pat Friesen’s experience,” says Watts. “He’s worked at Queen Chow, Stanley and Ms G’s.”
Friesen got in touch with Hong Kong-based chef Sam Ng (who also worked at Stanley) and flew him over to take up the job of head chef. “Sam is an incredible chef, and he’s obsessed with Chinese barbeque and traditional Chinese cooking. We’ve been talking for a while about him joining us, and this project was too exciting so he jumped at it.”
The team’s had Forrester’s around the corner for nearly three years, with hefty pub feeds and a relaxed atmosphere the MO. It’s a nice track record to join Ng on the pans and Sydney’s finest on the pour – the live music and DJ roster very welcome, too.
122 Flinders St, Darlinghurst