One of Redfern’s original small bars is still as loud, fairy-lit and friendly as ever. And cheap. Where else can you get a eminently drinkable semillon sauvignon for six bucks and a grilled ham cheese and tomato sandwich for a fiver, other than student housing?
There is a wonderful reliability to any visit to Arcadia. It’s always full but somehow you can manage to rustle up a bar stool or one of those vintage metal chairs, or find a spot out in the brick courtyard featuring many hanging plants and all the nautical paintings available at Vinnies. Since the smoking laws changed the back is saved for the smokers – if you’re hanging out for a chicken or ham and salami sarnie off the fancy toastie menu, stick to indoor seats.
They haven’t changed much since first opening – if it ain’t broke and all that – which means there’s still three beer taps featuring something German and two local brews – Tooheys was not invited to this party. You can also still get a $14 Negroni or Manhattan, because apparently bar owners Dave Jank and Brett Pritchard refuse to be hostages to inflation. Or maybe they’re just really busy over at their second venue just across the road, a Euro-style trattoria called Redfern Continental with another cracking little bar out the back.
Early Rolling Stones are on the stereo, but they’re almost drowned out by the hubbub of animated chat ricocheting off the exposed brick walls – this is not the place for a quiet catch-up, it’s where you add a little sparkle to your day.
Arcadia Liquors closes at midnight, but they manage to fit in a whole lot of fun before the clock strikes, and we’re not just talking Friday nights. Unless you’re very strong willed a quick drink can become another whisky, and pretty soon you’ve ordered up some barbecue duck from the no frills Chinese restaurant that delivers to the bar and are happily relinquishing the rest of your time and money to a mid-week knees-up. Good times can snowball like that.
When your local small bar does cheap wines, hot sangas and high spirits you’re onto a very good thing, which makes Redfern a very lucky suburb.