As a frequent visitor to Sydney, with both my siblings living in Balmain, I thought I knew the area in and out. Well that was the case until I visited arguably Balmain’s most vibrant and lively pub, The Balmain Hotel. Positioned on busy Mullens Street and well away from the hustle and bustle of Darling Street and the Balmain I had known from my previous trips to Sydney, this is one of those rare pubs that truly has something on offer for everyone.
Entering through the front bar, you’ll find everything you would come to expect from a good local Australian pub bar. With a huge projector screen pumping out sport from around the globe and a huge variety of beers on tap, the front bar- affectionately named The West End Bar as a homage to the venues history as the suburb’s second oldest pub- is a much loved watering hole for locals and sports fans alike.
Continuing on through to the next room and the main bar, the Balmain begins to show it’s true colours and settles in to the south pacific aesthetic that makes this place so straight up fun and unique. With gorgeous tropical themed wallpaper and murals, bamboo furniture, floral arrangements, colourful lighting and an impressive cocktail menu offering a rage of classics and house creations, there is definitely a laid-back, carefree holiday vibe in the air.
Being momentarily distracted by the nicely designed cocktail menu, some amongst us realised that they had no choice but to order a delicious Balmain Punch jug while my brother and I opted for the inevitable compulsory round of Balmain Pilsners as no night out is complete without sampling the local brews. There are plenty of beers on tap to satisfy even the most seasoned beer lover and an extensive wine list, showcasing a wide range of home grown drops as well as a handful of international options.
We then made our way to what I believe to be the highlight of the Balmain, the brightly coloured and incredibly spacious Polynesian themed beer garden. This is without a doubt the biggest and best beer garden in the inner west. The mismatch pastel coloured walls, beach umbrellas, thatched Tiki huts and festive lighting perfectly create an atmosphere that’s sure to make your night out feel like a summer holiday.
We were lucky enough to find a table under a Tiki hut despite the bustling Easter Thursday crowd. The food menu ambitiously tackles a diverse range of modern street style pub food, offering up meals from China, South East Asia, China, Korea, the Americas and the Caribbean. As mentioned earlier, there is truly something here to satisfy everyone’s tastebuds. We decided to begin with sampling the evening special of $1 dumplings. It’s no secret that both Sydney siders and us Melbournians are spoilt when it comes to dumplings. The bar was is forever set very high and these did not disappoint.
It’s plain to see that all meals being served were done so with careful consideration for great taste and presentation. If you’re fortunate enough to get in early, the Peking duck hot buns are an absolute must! Presented lovingly on a fresh, doughy open bun, these were seriously some of the most delicious steamed buns I’ve experienced south of the equator. It’s a credit to the staff that although they were flat out on a busy public holiday eve, we found them engaging, friendly and possessing extensive knowledge of everything on offer.The Balmain truly is a place for everyone. If it’s dinner with your partner or friends, cheering on the big game or dinner with your mum, I couldn’t recommend anywhere in the inner west as highly as the Balmain Hotel. There truly is something for everyone.
by Jesse Moribito