Frisco Hotel, the corner pub in the heart of Woolloomooloo, will reopen today after a three-month closure and makeover. Situated only a few hundred metres from Sydney’s Fleet Base, the harbourside hangout is an ode to sailors; it has seascape murals, blue and white trimmings, locally sourced seafood and a rum-heavy cocktail menu.
Though relatively unknown, the hotel was once famous for opening early; it welcomed naval crews and motorbike gangs for 7am schooners after nights of debauchery in Kings Cross. Fast-forward 100 years and the Frisco Hotel is establishing itself as a casual dining and cocktail bar. It has views of Sydney CBD from the hotel’s second-storey veranda.
Licensee and Woolloomooloo local Adam Micola is coming out of a 10-year career in real estate and is taking on the Frisco as his first solo venture. He feels the refurbished hotel is what the area has been lacking. “There was a space for something that bridged the gap between most of the pubs, which are easily accessible and cater very much to a local crowd, and somewhere that appealed to visitors to Woolloomooloo,” he says.
With architects Alexander & Co (East Village, The Village Inn and Surly’s), Micola has gutted the insides of both levels, reworked the entrance and restored the upstairs veranda, completely transforming the once “cramped, old, smelly and dark” hotel. Micola and Alexander & Co have highlighted the ornate details of the original structure.
With the nautical interiors in mind, Micola and head chef David Park have created a menu that celebrates seafood. Using prawns and lobsters bought from the Sydney Fish Markets every two days by Park, and poultry and meat from the east coast of Australia, Frisco’s menu is “uplifting and light”: sashimi, fish tacos served in lettuce cups and lobster brioche rolls.
The drinks reference the mariners who first frequented the hotel. Designed by Bec Wakelin, previously at The Ovolo just across the road, the extensive cocktail menu includes a Dark and Foamy, Wakelin’s take on the classic; the Sailor’s Mistress, a mix of gin, absinthe and apple; and the Caramelised Pear with vodka, butterscotch, lime and pear. The Frisco’s wine menu has been put together by sommelier Gabrielle Webster from Love, Tilly Devine and has an emphasis on Australian drops.