When it comes to new cafés, bars and restaurants Sydney is a food city of two halves. South of the Harbour Bridge there’s a constant explosion of new places to eat and drink. North of the bridge it's a different story with new openings operating at snail’s pace - so when there’s a Northside newcomer you can be sure everyone is talking about it. Take for example The Greens North Sydney.
The Greens fully opened on 11th November. In the first week alone 2,500 guests had handed over their $10 to become a club member.
Nathan and Lilly Fasan have, in opening The Greens, injected a new lease of life into what was formerly the Norths Bowlo club, the second oldest bowling club in Australia. Lilly and Nathan are husband and wife, and former Executive and Head Chefs at The Grounds of Alexandria.
The Greens makes a good first impression as a 'stay all afternoon and maybe evening too' kind of place. You’ll almost think you’re in Bondi or Double Bay. So what gives it this wow factor?
Firstly it looks hot. The inside and outside blends into the surrounding park, with large glass windows overlooking the bowling green, white wicker garden furniture and touches of green everywhere. There’s even a real scarecrow to protect the kitchen garden.
Throw in a food menu that will convince you you’re hungry, a live DJ, tons of outdoor seating and a view of the Harbour Bridge (and Opera House glimpses) and you're almost rivalling the Opera Bar. Only here there’s optional bowling available too…
If it’s not packed when you arrive then you’re lucky - take your pick of seating - inside or outside, on a bench bar table, leather sofa or just an ordinary table. But don’t get too comfortable because chances are you’ll be back and forth to the bar a couple of times during your visit. Yes that’s right – don’t go to The Greens expecting table service and no queues. It’s still a club and everything has to be ordered at the bar.
Luckily once you’re at the bar the good news is that the drink prices are not wallet-busting. The cocktail list is most impressively viewed as a wall mural alongside the main bar. Order a single serve for $17 from the summer 'House Party’ list or share with friends and order from the 'Lawn Party’ list for $32. Fancy a vino? Unless you're sure you’ll be content with one glass then save yourself multiple queues at the bar and order a bottle.
The food? Everything on the menu is reasonably priced and there's a broad selection to choose from. Even vegetarian and gluten free diets are well catered for. Small plates range from $11-14, salads are $16, and substantial plates are $17 to $34. If you're dining as a twosome then let the sharing dishes tempt you - crispy pork belly, whole baked baby snapper and the extravagant ‘Barman's Plate’ are all under $45.
It is early days but here’s some food recommendations based on generosity, flavour and quality of produce. For small plates check out the grilled asparagus with shaved pecorino, crumbed egg and white truffle oil ($12) and the house cured ocean trout with pickled cucumbers, caper berries, quail eggs & lemon crème fraiche ($14). Being healthy, low carb or on the paleo bandwagon? Then order a salad like the radish with fennel, ricotta, orange, crispy wild and brown rice ($16). If dieting isn’t on your mind and you’re with a plus one then you can’t go wrong with the crispy pork belly for two with Spanish black pudding, celeriac and apple ($42).
Want to work off some of the food with a game of bowls? Go for it. And keep your eyes peeled for more from The Greens – they have plans in the pipeline for everything from movie nights to produce markets.
You’re tempted right? The Greens is certainly worthy of a Harbour Bridge crossing. Just go with the expectation that you’ll spend some time in a queue, potentially five to six people deep, while your companions sunbake outside with a view of the Harbour Bridge. This place is only going to get busier.