There are two very distinct sides to the Sheaf. The beautiful towering art deco façade gives way to an entranceway lined in signed music memorabilia and a framed copy of the Liverpool Echo from the day John Lennon was shot. To your right is one of the fanciest gaming lounges we’ve seen outside a casino, complete with a fish tank and an outdoor waterfall. On the left of the hall is the public bar where serious East Sydney Roosters fans gather. So far, it’s exactly what you’d expect to find inside a hundred year old pub. But we’re in exceedingly well-heeled Double Bay, and once you get to the beer garden it’s very clear clear that the Sheaf is more blue ribbon than blue collar.
Since our last visit they’ve expanded the gazebo to ensure it never rains on this garden party parade, but on a nice day there’s still room for you to sit outside under the golden Veuve Clicquot umbrellas with a glass of the bone dry French rosé from Domaine Saint Anne. Cocktails hail from the fruity elixir set, although in this day and age if you’re not serving a Negroni the people may riot. It really is the perfect pub cocktail: no fresh ingredients beyond the garnish, equal measures, difficult to arse-up.
And there’re always jugs of Pimm’s to keep an afternoon session on a rolling boil. Just want a beer? 4 Pines, Moo Brew, Stone and Wood cover off craft; and Carlton, Peroni, Heineken and Asahi are all present and accounted for.
The food menu is about high-end covers of familiar fare, like the wagyu burger and the grain fed sirloin - the cheapest steak available – which asks $29 for 250g of beef, thick-cut chips and salad. Traditionalists will miss the pepper, mushroom and gravy sauces – reformists will welcome taragon mustard, horseradish and salsa verde in their place.
Some things never change, like the Wednesday night ragers that still attract the bright young things of the deep east, but on a Saturday night it provides a slightly more relaxed spot for knees up than nearby Mrs Sippy and Pelicano. There’s live jazz on Tuesdays, party sets on Friday and Saturdays and Sundays are for acoustic tunes.
What the Sheaf does well is expand the remit of your traditional watering hole without over-reaching. The public bar has got you covered for sport, beer and pool, and for something a little nicer the beer garden is relaxed and elegant. And for a pub in this area, it’s a smart way to play things.