The Friend in Hand should be the subject of a Slim Dusty song. It feels like someone uprooted an outback pub and replanted it in the back streets of Glebe, complete with a public bar decked out in more Australiana tat than you can poke a stick at. There’s the famous cockatoo that sits happily at one end of the bar, but he goes to bed at 6pm so if you are keen for a drink with the pub’s avian mascot make it a lunchtime Reschs.
A model train set runs along the back of the bar and out around into the foyer passing the street signs, old public notices, black-and-white photos, newspaper clippings, an impressive collection of foreign currency and some mounted taxidermy heads. Model aeroplanes and a canoe hang from the ceiling and a good chunk of the bar is given to the big glass aquarium where they keep the hermit crabs for Wednesday crab racing. The eclectic hoarded vibe lessens a little in the dining room – called the Fork in Hand – where they have an open gas fireplace and do a tasty chicken parmigiana. The people in the pub also have character to spare. There’s always a few council workers still in high-vis out the front, grizzled locals with tales of the old days and a bartender blithely singing along to ‘Groove Is in the Heart’ – one of the top 100 karaoke hits on Music Max channel – while she pulls your standard domestic beers for the half dozen bikies who roared up to the curb on immaculately polished Harleys. The beers are cheap and super cold, the wine list will get the job done, and they have a comedy night, poetry reading and life drawing to keep things high brow-ish. This is a friend you want to keep around.