July 2023 update: In sad news for Sydney’s live music scene, beloved pub the Lansdowne Hotel is up for sale, again. Got a cool $25 million? If so, you could be the new owner of the Chippendale watering hole – as that’s approximately how much it’s going for.
First opening in the 1930s, the Lansdowne Hotel is a Sydney institution, and has played an integral role in the city’s live music scene, with the likes of the Living End, Courtney Barnett and Art vs Science rocking on its stages.
Though the Lansdowne has had a turbulent few years to say the least. After closing for two years in 2015 due to the impact of Sydney’s lockout laws, the pub reopened triumphantly under Mary’s wing in 2017. In February 2022 it closed again, and then reopened in March this year under new ownership with the legends from the Oxford Art Factory, sporting a new retro-inspired rooftop, a New York deli-style menu and late-night free music program.
While we aren’t sure what the future holds for the Lansdowne, according to the HTL Property website where it's listed, the pub has “favourable planning approvals in place which may support further redevelopment of the site.” Gulp. We’ll keep you posted.
In the meantime, you can head there for your last drinks.
- Avril Treasure
Read on for our March 2023 update, and for our review of the Lansdowne from 2017.
March 2023 update: Beloved live music venue the Lansdowne Hotel reopened after closing for a hot minute, and then reopening again, after being saved by the legends from the Oxford Art Factory. Refreshed and revitalised, the new Lansdowne is still the same pub you’ve always loved, now just with a new retro-inspired rooftop, a New York deli-style menu from an award-winning chef and a late-night free music program. Sounds pretty good to us.
Sporting rainbow umbrellas, blue AstroTurf and big wooden tables, the new rooftop is an inner-city oasis where you can soak up the sunset over chilled drinks before heading downstairs for a gig.
Now to the food. New head chef, Eugene Novikov, formerly of the award-winning restaurant Amisfield in Queenstown and Qualia at Hamilton Island, has curated a New York-deli-style menu, which is available now.
Get your hands on a classic Reuben with pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard and Russian sauce on a rye sourdough; or 'The Meatball' with housemade meatballs, provolone, rocket and parmesan. Other plates include Chicago-style hot dogs, waffle fries, and fried chicken wings with Frank's hot sauce, all of which are perfect with an ice-cold beer before dancing with your mates.
“The Lansdowne was an exciting opportunity to demonstrate how food, music and culture can all come together as the city comes back to life with activity,” says Novikov.
And be sure to head there on a Friday night for the Lansdowne Hotel’s free live music program, the Graveyard Shift, which sees local legends and the best up-and-coming stars hit the stage. Plus, there are a bunch of drink deals, too.
A vibey rooftop, live music, and ace food – it’s true that good things come in threes. Lansdowne Hotel, we’re so glad you’re back and please stay.
Read on for our review of the Lansdowne Hotel, from all the way back in August 2017.
Prime position in Sydney pub folklore couldn't save rock’n’roll dive the Lansdowne Hotel from shuttering in 2015. But Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham (the duo behind Mary's and the Unicorn) could, raising the dead just two years on and proving some heroes swap capes for flanno.
The result of their hard work is a study in beautiful decay – like an architectural Keith Richards – honouring the building’s old bones without veering into rose-tinted nostalgia. The dead wood of shitty pub fare and the dreaded pokies have been picked clean for the choice bits, like the bar, which now fronts an open kitchen sending out classed-up junk food good enough to lure in punters on its own merits. (Read our review of Mary's Pizzeria here.)
Giant rugs and real candles give you that Seattle-grunge-in-the-'90s vibe, with a black-felt pool table for extra-strength late-night vibes and a tiny square of a disco-lit dance floor. The rock-chic lovefest continues in Jess Cochrane’s sexy Playboy mod-podge pop art murals outside where indie kids are smoking ciggies like it's still 2007.
The first floor bandroom gives breath to Sydney's oxygen-deprived live-music scene - a few bucks and a wrist band get you upstairs access to the velvet banquette-lined, 250-person venue that manages to feel intimate for a folky show, but gives you room to cut loose when King Tide or You Am I are on the stage.
VB and Melbourne Bitter for the old timers are tapped next to craft beers like Young Henrys and Grifter pale ale. Cocktail and wine lists are to the point – the former just seven classic drinks, (Mai Tais and a Daiquiri with JD) and the latter a smashable shortlist of boutique, natural bottles from Ochota Barrels, Jauma and Good Intentions. Here, pub wine is good wine.
Forty-eight-hour-fermented dough creates the golden, crisp-edged crust on the Detroit-style pan pizzas they’re serving – add LP’s Quality Meats pepperoni to your Motor City pie and you’ll never go Napoli again. Kimchi beef rib pancakes melt in your mouth and leave you with a lingering chilli burn; and the burgers are the greasy, cheesy fix you’d expect from the Mary’s crew, though our baskets came liner free with kamikaze chips fleeing through the holes.
On a heaving Saturday night a motley crew of punters pack out the place like a savannah watering hole during dry season, everyone rubbing along to Soundgarden bellowing through the speakers. So save the funeral song for someone else because the Lansdowne has risen again, like a rock'n'roll phoenix, and it’s a glorious sight to behold.