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Cricketers Arms Hotel

  • Bars
  • Surry Hills
  • price 1 of 4
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Chez Crix (Photograph: Supplied )
    Photograph: Supplied
  2. Chez Crix (Photograph: Supplied)
    Photograph: Supplied
  3. Chez Crix (Photograph: Supplied)
    Photograph: Supplied
  4. Photograph: Anna Kucera
    Photograph: Anna Kucera
  5. Photograph: Anna Kucera
    Photograph: Anna Kucera
  6. Photograph: Anna Kucera
    Photograph: Anna Kucera
  7. Photograph: Anna Kucera
    Photograph: Anna Kucera
  8. Photograph: Anna Kucera
    Photograph: Anna Kucera
  9. Photograph: Anna Kucera
    Photograph: Anna Kucera
  10. Photograph: Anna Kucera
    Photograph: Anna Kucera
  11. Photograph: Anna Kucera
    Photograph: Anna Kucera

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

This classic Aussie pub offers the best of both worlds – with old-school, untouched pub vibes downstairs, and a revamped restaurant upstairs

The Cricketers Arms is, arguably, Surry Hills’ – if not Sydney’s – most classic Aussie pub. The fact that they’ve hardly done a thing to the bottom floor and beer garden in decades is what’s given it its charm. 

As you enter, there’s a big bar in the centre of the room, with bar stools dotted around it – the kind of space you feel comfortable coming to on your own and pulling up a stool for a chat with the bartender. If you stop by enough times, that bartender – and the strangers next to you – will probably end up being your friends. That’s the type of place the Cricketers is. 

There’s a DJ booth next to the bar; a sitting room where they occasionally host bands alongside that; followed by a grungy pool room complete with a purple-topped pool table. All areas of the downstairs pub are connected with sticky old red carpet with a gold pattern that disguises years of fun that pub-goers have had with old friends and new. 

Then there’s the beer garden – it’s just old wooden tables and seating packed into an enclosed courtyard lined with simple brick paving, but the space is prettied up with hanging greenery and thousands of tiny fairy lights. 

Basically there’s a place in here for everyone – for local barflies and the oldies who’ve been coming here forever, for uni students and skater punks wanting some cheap entertainment, for well-dressed Surry Hills creatives here for a knock-off drink, for live music lovers and those keen to boogie – even for those looking to knock the top off a cold one on the way to or from the cricket or footy at Moore Park. This place has always been a hangout for a mish-mash of drinkers from all walks of life.

But what we love most about the Crix right now is its upstairs glow-up – while the ground-floor pub is untouched, the level 1 bistro has had a a French(ish) revolution. Instead of serving up its usual pub grub classics, it’s become ‘Chez Crix’. 

When we go to check it out, we first head into the small upstairs bar for a pre-dinner cocktail. On the wall there’s a painting of a chubby-faced man wearing an olive wreath crown and red lipstick, smoking a cigar and cheersing a cocktail. It’s a motif represented throughout the space, and it gives the impression that although the diner has Frenchified, this place is still a little bit loose.  

This is no stuffy French bistro. In fact, the team gets on the front foot with a disclaimer on their reservations page stating: “*we are not French”. Head chef Antoine Vassallo (Suzie Q Coffee and Records) – working in conjunction with Wesley Cooper Jones (from the Old Fitz and P&V Wine + Liquor Merchants), GM Jackson Duxbury (formerly of t​he Agrarian Kitchen and Franklin, both in Tasmania) and Cricketers publican Dominic Juillet – just serve up French-style dishes. 

The menu kicks off with nibbles like LP’s saucisson (a French-style salami) with guindillas (Basque peppers); and moves through to an entrée section featuring croquettes and terrine; followed by mains such as a roast chook, a cheese burger and, of course, steak frites. 

We start with burrata – possibly the least French thing on the menu – but it’s hard to go past the soft and creamy cheese. It comes disguised under a dress of vibrant beetroot chunks and delicate orange nasturtium petals. The coffee-roasted beetroot gives the dish an earthy yet sweet punch, and it’s gone in seconds. 

Next, we move onto the mushroom vol-au-vent, and we’re pleased to discover that it’s a more sophisticated dish than the white sauce-heavy pastry cups that our gran used to serve up at soirées. One big, flaky pastry shell comes filled with a pile of glossy button and shimeji mushrooms, topped with fresh tarragon, dill and parsley – all cooked to soft, buttery, garlicky perfection. Between the mushrooms and the pastry is a bed of duxelles, a flavour-rich paste made up of mushrooms minced with onions, herbs, pepper and – yep – more butter. We will be attempting this one at our next soirée.

For mains, we share a big yellowbelly flounder fillet, which comes topped with hundreds of tiny, salty capers and bathed in a delightfully rich yet tangy butter and lemon sauce. It comes with McDonald’s-thin French fries, and we spend the rest of the evening dipping them in the rich, lemony juice – as well as in the miso mustard dressing of our side salad.  

We’re in Surry Hills, so it's only natural that the “Piss List”, as it’s titled, heroes pet nats. We go for a French sparkling rosé called Moussamoussettes – which is rosy and sweet, but not too sweet – because Duxbury tells us it’s his absolute favourite. It’s a party in our mouth. 

By the time we’ve mopped up all the butter from each plate, the volume of the room has moved up more than a few notches; it’s well and truly buzzing, a little bit loose – just like it gets downstairs. We head down there for a nightcap with some of the ‘new friends’ we’ve collected, and lounge around on one of the old couches in the sitting room before calling it a night – a night full of delicious French(ish) food and a big, fat side of joie de vivre

To read our full review of Chez Crix, click here.


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Alice Ellis
Written by
Alice Ellis


106 Fitzroy St
Surry Hills
Opening hours:
Mon-Thu 3pm-midnight; Fri, Sat noon-midnight; Sun 2-10pm
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