The Shakespeare Hotel does some of the most reliable and cheap pub food around. The whole menu is $12.50, which means suddenly your options at the lower end of the scale are far greater than chips – we’re talking pork ribs with plummy barbecue sauce, two big braised lambs shanks on a bed of mash, or even a simple rump steak with mushroom sauce – and the portions are generous. The Shakey is many things to many people and the punters here pretty accurately reflect the Surry Hills mixed bag of beanie-clad students, upwardly mobile design and media types and a fair whack of locals from the sizeable housing commission estate across the street. For those who just want a cold Tooheys New and a quiet flutter at the TAB there is a corner dedicated to just that. Want to watch the footy in the company of like-minded folk? There are flatscreens in each corner. Tables are scattered around the bar on the ground floor, with the most prized perches being up on the right hand side where you are closest to the taps of Reschs, Byron Bay pale, Ruby Tuesday amber, Guinness and Coopers Green. For everyone else it’s leaning room or nothing. Out the back is a canteen-style bistro but for a little more ambiance head up the stairs to the cosy, parlour-style rooms that are decked out like a faded Victorian guesthouse with old velvet couches and dark painted walls. They do trivia on Monday nights, a badge draw on Wednesdays and if a serious Swans game is on, it can be tricky to get in the door. For decades, this old pub has been working the same formula of hearty food, cheap drinks and old brown tiles that can be hosed down if need be – when you’re onto a good thing, why mess with the recipe?
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