You can’t really call yourself a Sydneysider unless you’ve had a schooner or four underneath the gnarly branches of the giant namesake tree in the beer garden of the Oaks Hotel in Neutral Bay. It’s a bona fide institution, and it’s about to undergo its biggest shakeup in its 133-year history.
Three new venues within the venue are set to open in the coming months, starting with Taffy’s, a so-called “rebel” sports bar slated to switch the lights on in time for the Rugby World Cup next month. It’ll be home to the biggest foosball table in New South Wales, with room for eight players, and a novelty Hulk Hogan tap boasting a rotating line-up of twenty craft beers. Will there be a life-size cutout of Richie Benaud, you ask? Yes. Yes there will. The menu takes an equally cheeky approach, putting spins on true-blue pub classics. Think nachos that swap chilli con carne and corn chips for duck and fried wontons, and Reuben sambos in the form of spring rolls.
On the other side of the spectrum, a Parisian-style conservatory space and patio dubbed Alala’s will launch in October, offering a picnic-style menu featuring the classic French open-faced sandwiches known as tartines and playful, seasonal cocktails. Connecting the two will be a bottle shop inspired by a mid-century milk bar, with a communal beer tasting table and a cast-iron oven and rotisserie doling out hot roast rolls with gravy all day long.
If the Oaks wasn’t all things to all people before, it certainly looks like it will be soon.
Keen to scope out some more pubs? Here are the 50 best pubs in Sydney.