Time Out says
The old Charo gets polished to a high shine to wine and dine Waverley
Sydney has a soft spot for its old pubs, but thanks to a recent onslaught of refurbs we’ve also come to expect a little more from our local than lager, footy and some crinkle cut chips. We’ve seen the Oxford Tavern go from a divey topless bar to a barbecue-fuelled fun palace, Minsky’s got the My Fair Lady treatment on the Lower North Shore and the Quarrymans is now leading the craft beer charge into Pyrmont.
Now the east is getting in on the action with the new look Charing Cross Hotel. It’s got an eco beach house vibe with woven lampshades, cane and bentwood chairs, gleaming copper beer taps and a sandstone fireplace. Pus there’s a stuffed peacock mounted on the bar for dramatic effect. Out the back the paved courtyard is lit by giant letters spelling out ‘Charo’; their glow carries through to a more formal dining room off to one side.
And the dining room is definitely the focus of the new operation. Chef Matt Kemp – formerly of Randwick’s Balzac and Montpellier Public House –is calling the shots in the kitchen here, and people are clearly keen to see what’s in store. In fact, the dining room is proving so popular they are annexing bar seating to meet the bookings demand.
The bar menu is a simpler affair, maxing out with the $22 flat iron steak. You may know it as an oyster blade and it’s not a cut you want to drown in pepper sauce. Here it comes fresh off the grill with crisp golden, thrice-cooked chips and a side salad that's essentially ribbons of cucumber, fennel, lettuce and red onion– all weirdly constrained in a little ceramic cup.
For too long breakfast and dinner have been separated by the rising and setting of the sun. Kemp brings them together on the bar menu with tender baked beans on toast, crossed with a single, smoky pork rib. Season to your liking with Tabasco... and hold onto the hot sauce: you'll need it to spice up the under-seasoned pork and duck rillettes, too.
You can back it all up with a hot Snickers pudding or a peach, raspberry and Champagne trifle from the dessert menu – it’s available across the whole venue.
Friendly staff man the bar, but the focus on the dining aspect of the venue means some basic pub functions get overlooked. Our glass of Teusner shiraz is poured with great flourish but our beers take two attempts; food arrives in a timely fashion but there’s communication breakdowns over cutlery and condiment locations.
On tap they have a reassuring mix of local craft beers with 4 Pines and Young Henrys, plus the old guard of Aussie brews like Reschs, Coopers and Carlton. A cloudy, weighty white ale from Feral Brewing Co is a flavoursome ferment, but does not get more attractive as it settles, so put it away quickly. For a more sessionable craft choice treat yourself to the new brew from Two Birds, a citrusy summery Bantam IPA.
The new Charo has gone all out on the fancy gastro-pub front and the chatty, well-heeled, early adopters are already clamouring for the comfy chairs near the fireplace and introducing themselves to the bartenders. A bit more love for the pub side of things and this is local could just become Charing Cross’s Prince Charming.
81 Carrington Road
|Opening hours:||Mon-Thu 10am-midnight; Fri-Sat 10am-2am; Sun 10am-10pm|