It’s hard to imagine anyone having qualms about the Golden Gully team moving in on the old Redfern Continental site. Co-owners Dan McBride and Dynn Szmulewicz (also of Glebe’s Little Guy) put Leichhardt back on the hospitality map last year with a modern-Australian bar the area never knew it needed – plus some of the best plant-based snacks in Sydney, by Emma Evans, formerly of Alibi.

But McBride says one naysayer had a bone to pick with their new venue, which is split between a bar at the front (The Sunshine Inn) and a restaurant out the back open Thursday to Saturday (DD’s).

“I’ve got a mate who was like, ‘fucking vegetarian food.’ He was really upset that the meat was gone.”

As at Golden Gully, the menu here is vegetarian, with native ingredients and local producers championed across the board. Except for a rustic ladder and sizeable stash of Aussie amaro behind the bar, they’ve kept the space pretty well intact.

“The best thing about the whole venue was that it had such great bones,” says McBride. “It was really well-built and beautiful. We’re just glowing it up instead of ripping stuff out and trying to change things.”

At the front is the bar portion of the venue. But head past a new blackbutt divider and James Northfield-inspired tourism art for Yorkeys Knob (“You’d be stiff to miss it!”) and Bastard Point (“Don’t let the name fool ya!”), and you’ll find the leather-bound door that once hid Gunther’s Dining Room, Redfern Continental’s secret bar and pasta joint.

Now, beyond the door, a chandelier hangs where a mirror ball used to spin – and there’s a fine (yet accessible) diner.

“[The front of] Redfern Continental was kind of run like a restaurant, so we swapped the concept,” explains Szmulewicz. “Now the restaurant is in [the back] and the bar-bistro is out the front. Once dinner service is done we’ll direct traffic here for late-night cocktails and snacks from the Sunshine Inn menu. People dining around the suburb can come here late as well.”

DD’s (short for Dynn and Dan’s) is a red-upholstered space in which Evans serves three to five super-seasonal courses based around the day’s produce, supplied by veteran market grocer Shane Roberts.

And it’s surprisingly affordable. An entrée (asparagus with avocado ceviche, lemon-myrtle oil and lemon aioli); main (corn-crusted fennel confit with smoked chats, snow peas and wattleseed beurre blanc); and dessert (Ferrero Rocher pie with toasted hazelnuts, chocolate mousse, orange curd and orange-chocolate soil) will set you back just $39.

But you can add on a couple of courses, if you wish. Choose from the seasonal pasta or something like scalloped king-oyster mushrooms with nori and polenta. You’ll find both those dishes on Sunshine Inn’s menu too, along with fries, jalapeno poppers and a vegan-meatball sub that pairs perfectly with a schooner (there’s Grifter, Akasha and Batch on tap).

A minimum-waste ethos in the kitchen informs the two-part cocktail menu – McBride uses native botanicals such as strawberry gum and wattleseed to create house-made shrubs and syrups.

“The synergy with the kitchen is a big thing, and we’re also using as much Aussie booze as we can,” he says. “We’ve got West Winds gin and Starward Whisky as house spirits, plus heaps of amaro from Autonomy Distillers, Poor Toms and Okar.”

These distilleries and more bolster the “Australiana” side of the cocktail menu, which kicks off with the Aussie Negroni – a ticker of drink mixing West Winds gin with a house blend of five Australian amaros and vermouths. The “house” selection has a few international liquors thrown in, plus a design-your-own spritz option.

Szmulewicz has stacked the 85-strong wine list with Australian naturals and the occasional drop from overseas. “We have a Georgian wine, one from the US, but it’s not a big list,” he says. “We’re only choosing things we think have something to say.”

The Sunshine Inn and DD’s
180 Redfern Street, Redfern

Hours:
The Sunshine Inn
Wed to Sat 3pm–midnight
Sun 1pm–10pm

DD’s
Thu to Sat 6pm–midnight

thesunshineinn.com.au