Eric, what inspired you to open your café, Clementine’s, in Pyrmont?
Two reasons: the first is because it’s outside of the lockout law area; the second is, when I first came to view the shop location I liked the view of Harris Street towards the water. I thought I’d enjoy seeing that every day. It’s held up – I still like it.
Where do you like to eat and drink in the area?
The Quarrymans. The taps rotate a lot, there’s quite a lot to choose from, it’s never packed – like elbows to elbows in the CBD. It’s my favourite place to come after work, because I usually like to have a beer afterwards. Otherwise, Gallon, which is a wine bar down on Harris [Street], Momofuku is a good place for a nice glass, there’s also the bar at Black.
And when you’re hungry?
Banh Mi Co next to Bar Zini for a good cheap [eat], Bar Zini for easy-going Italian, Kura for cheap sushi. There’s a pizza shop in the Star, Pizzaperta, that’s a good time as well. There’s actually another good café up the road called Two Sis.
Any businesses you’d recommend?
I actually have a chiropractor around here, who is really good – Dr Israel Lewis [at the Pyrmont Chiropractic Centre]. I think the Pyrmont IGA is the best in the city [laughs]. The range of goods is excellent. I shop there for everything.
What’s a Pyrmont hidden gem?
The whole waterfront area is beautiful, it’s one of the reasons why I decided to be in the area. It’s nice to have a meander around, especially for younger families. There’s also the Zebra Bar down there, there’s LuMi. Up around the Fish Markets there’s beautiful land, like Blackwattle Bay, which is a really nice walk to go up towards the Tramsheds. I never knew how beautiful the foreshore was around here. It quickly became my favourite landscape around Sydney; even more so than Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, I love the Anzac Bridge a lot more now.
What’s next for Clementine’s?
We’ve applied for the liquor licence. Long-term, I’m looking forward to making use of my experience in the wine industry. My idea is to do a charcuterie, salumi, wine and cheese thing as an additional offering [at night]. I’d like to develop something slightly more European, which I think fits with the ethos and the style of the community here.
Eric’s favourite Pyrmont places
Clementine’s does a roaring trade in coffee, with folk from the nearby office buildings piling in for a warm-up brew. The beans are by Marrickville roastery Blind Man Coffee and the flat white is chocolatey, smooth and light rather than rich, complex and robust.
Those coppery valves are now supplying Pyrmont with anything from Ekim’s super-refreshing After Battle pale ale through to a strawberry wheat beer, a blueberry hefeweizen or an alcoholic ginger beer for people yet to acquire the taste for hops and barley.
They’re serving up small and large dishes of Japanese classics at this Pyrmont sushi haven. Find your favourite rolls, dumplings and tempura covered prawns and veg alongside mains and sashimi. You’ll be part of the action sitting in the narrow dining area, watching spicy steam rise off bowls of hot udon noodle soups.
This is the perfect brekky or lunch spot for snap-happy café goers: each dish is presented beautifully, with edible flowers and creative construction. The menu varies from staples like banana bread (be generous with the caffeine-injected espresso butter) to Asian-inspired dishes like rich bowls of ramen or the poached salmon bowl with kale, broccolini, edamame, avocado and a wasabi vinaigrette.
This Harris Street banh mi joint will stack crusty white bread rolls with sprigs of coriander, pickled carrots, fresh cucumber, chilli and pâté, plus grilled beef, pork or shredded chicken. Along with hunger busting bread rolls you'll also find mixed packs of rice paper rolls, steamed pork buns and spring rolls. Order up and then walk down to the nearby Pirrama Park to enjoy.
Ringside seats don’t get better than the stools lining the Momofuku Seiobo kitchen. This is as close to the cooking action as you can get without head chef Paul Carmichael reaching over and handing you a veggie peeler and a bag of spuds.You want to be sitting up at the glossy black bench so that the chefs can slide dishes straight into your waiting hands.
This Pyrmont wine bar has been pouring glasses of regional vino since 2009. Locals stop in for pizzas, small bites (including hot crumbed cheese, gozleme and house made falafels) and of course, wine. Drops here lean traditional, with most wines coming from Western Australia and NSW regions, alongside the occasional French, Italian and New Zealand drop. They are also open at lunch and the leafy courtyard is a prime spot.
This trusty Italian trattoria has been serving the people of Pyrmont espressi, panninis and pastas for more than a decade. Along with sprawling black board specials, you'll also find local nights, including pasta and pinot Tuesdays and roast and wine Wednesdays.
Outside on the street, away from the Star casino, Pyrmont feels like a bit of a No Man’s Land for a fancy dinner out. But that was until LuMi Bar and Dining came along, the restaurant from ex-head chef of Ormeggio at the Spit, Federico Zanellato. Because of its positioning and extensive glass walls, it feels as if you’re almost floating on the harbour.
So just how good is the World’s Best Steak? It’s a reasonable question, given it costs a pretty penny – $130 buys you 180g – and so in the spirit of journalistic enquiry we ordered the Jack’s Creek Farm sirloin from Black Bar & Grill to find out. Head chef Dany Karam smokes your precious serve for ten minutes over cherry wood before grilling it over ironbark coals. The result is four utterly perfect slices.