Immune to Sydney’s occasional chaos, Erksineville sets a slightly slower pace. In partnership with realestate.com.au, we explore what makes this evolving town so good in our Greater Sydney series which features up-and-coming suburbs.


BY SAMMY PRESTON 30 October 2015


Erskineville is poised at the barrier to Sydney’s sprawling inner west and carves out the city’s edge. Once a borough for market gardeners, brick makers and leather tanners, it was very much an industrial suburb until the early 20th century. Greek and Macedonian migrants settled in the ’50s because it was affordable and close to the city. Erskineville is also etched into showbiz history: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was filmed at a local pub and Hugh Jackman starred in indie film Erskineville Kings right before he first played Wolverine. Now the creative set has settled among the area’s laneways and steeped rows of charming small-scale terraces.


Along Erskineville Road – the suburb’s vibrant, leafy high street – is a collection of cafes, bars, restaurants and timeless pubs. Erskineville is a place for sunlit brunches, long lunches, lazy afternoon cocktails and laid-back dinners. While the area rests just outside of NSW’s lock-out laws, late-night bar hopping isn’t Erskineville’s chief draw card. The closure of the troubled Imperial Hotel earlier this year, and plans for a more relaxed future for the venue, are probably more in tune with the cool, peaceful nature of a suburb, popular with both singles and maturing families.


Rather than a list of the next big things, for the most part, Erskineville’s restaurateurs, store and cafe owners have inhabited the area for years. We speak with some locals who have watched the suburb evolve, and who are dedicated to supporting it.


A Taste of Things to Come
“Erskineville is special to me because I grew up in this area; I’ve been here for more than 20 years.” Kevin Cheung has very recently launched a pop-up concept, A Taste of Things to Come, on Erskineville Road. To develop the business, Cheung spoke with locals about how best to use the former restaurant space. “I really wanted this business to be involved with the local community. While calls for a butcher tallied high, locals were most interested in a relaxed eatery with a reasonable price point. For now, you’ll find a varied menu by chef Brian Villahermosa, which includes Mediterranean fare alongside steak and smoked mash and a lamb neck and mushroom pie. The cafe-bistro hybrid may soon include a rooftop bar.


A Taste of Things to Come
63 Erskineville Road, Erskineville
(02) 9517 3957


Fleetwood Macchiato
“The suburb is great. It's like a friendly, approachable offshoot of Newtown,” says Jai Pyne, co-owner of Erskineville Road cafe Fleetwood Macchiato, and frontman of Sydney band, The Paper Scissors. “It’s like Newtown's less-scary and less-intense little sibling.” Opened in 2012, Pyne’s light-filled cafe has a no-fuss approach and is a solid part of the local community. “In the last three years we've made friends, met lots of new people, said farewell, worked on projects with neighbours, drank beers at the local and just loved the neighbourhood. We feel really fortunate to have a cafe in this suburb.”


Fleetwood Macchiato
43 Erskineville Road, Erskineville
(02) 9557 9291


Revolve Records and Relics
Jon Orden moved into the area to open his second-hand record emporium, Revolve Records and Relics, 11 years ago. The store is a vibrant assemblage of everything from easy listening to seriously rare collectables (Orden is currently negotiating on a rare U2 recording on white coloured vinyl worth a cool $7000). “When people come to the shop they’re really surprised at how beautiful the village is,” he says with a smile. “They always feel like staying and going to have a coffee, wine or beer. It has a pretty tranquil feel about it.”


Revolve Records and Relics
3/65 Erskineville Road, Erskineville
(02) 9519 9978


Tom Bass Sculpture Studio School
“We love Erskineville because it’s such a vibrant and friendly community, family focused with many residents interested in the arts,” says Tom Bass Sculpture Studio School’s manager, Melanie Watkins. Founded by celebrated Australian sculptor Tom Bass in 1974, the sculpture school shifted spaces and made its home in Erskineville in 1998. The aim of the school is to impart Bass’ sculpture fundamentals – technique, form and concept. Relaxed and social, regular workshop classes run for 10 weeks, with students attending one three-hour workshop per week.


Tom Bass Sculpture Studio School
1A Clara Street, Erskineville
(02) 9565 4851


Also worth checking out:


The original outpost of Sydney’s Shenkin Cafes is on Erskineville Road. Fill up on the Haikin family’s distinctive and delicious Israeli fare.


Shenkin Kitchen
53a Erskineville Road, Erskineville
(02) 9550 5511


The Erskineville Deli is a favourite, selling local produce, antipasto, charcuterie, cheese and fresh flowers.


The Deli Erskineville
110 Erskineville Road, Erskineville
(02) 9557 2685


Although technically within the Alexandria postcode, owner of relaxed French-Australian gourmet grocer and cafe Bitton, David Bitton feels more a part of the Erskineville community.


Bitton
36–37A Copeland Street, Alexandria
(02) 9519 5111


The Erskineville Hotel, more affectionately known as The Erko, champions Erskineville’s rich sense of local community. Find Australian craft beers and meals made from locally sourced produce.


The Erko
102 Erskineville Road, Erskineville
(02) 9565 1608



To explore the suburb in more detail, visit the Erskineville suburb profile at realestate.com.au.