There’s music playing and the sound of people talking. A party must be happening somewhere but there are only cars, concrete and car-park signage. Walk around the front and a few red-faced people stumble from a metal door.
Hidden in that same car park is Uncle Kurt’s, Parramatta’s first small bar. Uncle Kurt’s owner George Makram says he was inspired to open in Parramatta after years of travel into the inner city. “The locals still love good shit. They love quality drinks, cool places and quality food but they just couldn’t get it here. They'd stay at home or travel. I was sick of it. My Uber bill was through the roof.”
What he’s created is a mash of ideas from Brooklyn, Newtown and Surry Hills. “I like to think it’s not just a first in Parramatta but a first in many ways,” says Makram. “How many bars have deli food? There's nowhere in Sydney that has let six or seven youths, that are wanted by the police, tag the shit out of its walls legally.” He’s not joking – the bar is covered in tags. The only place not sprayed like a decommissioned train is the counter and Makram’s scavenged second-hand furniture. “The bar front is pressed-tin ceiling from an 18th-century mansion in Camperdown,” says Makram. “I did a lot of improvising.”
Typically the speakers play hip-hop but unlike other bars with similar inspirations it doesn’t serve burgers, fried chicken or barbequed meat. Instead it’s true to Makram’s love of New York delis and serves a simple, five-item menu that includes a pastrami po’boy; a Reuben; a meat board; and a smoked sausage, pickle and mustard roll. All of the cuts come from Challenger Smallgoods.
This contrasts somewhat with the bar offering (designed in collaboration with former Merivale bartender Germone De los Reyers and Bobby Aydogan, formerly of Rockpool and Hugo’s. It is a creative but refined cocktail list that flows from New York classics to theatrical creations. The Breakfast at Kentucky uses Bourbon-infused corn flakes, almond milk, Fernet Branca, egg white and nutmeg and is served in a teacup with a flaming stick of cinnamon.
22B Horwood Place, Parramatta
0401 585 026
Wed to Thu 5pm–10pm
Fri to Sat 5pm–12am