Customs House Bar

Rebecca Varidel
23rd Apr 2016

This buttermilk fried chicken breast is one of the best things I've eaten in a bar. Actually, it is THE best fried chicken I've eaten.

But let start with the drinks. Around me, most people are drinking schooners. We take our dranks up a step and order the Customs House Bar special of the night. The tonic is withheld a little letting the gin remain the hero. The melting single round of ice lends a hand at making this an extraordinary G&T. The ice was frozen over three days, with a layer of lemon zest, a layer of orange zest, and a layer of lime zest. Any number of well crafted signature or classic cocktails can be ordered also, and there is also a good selection of wine.

For the food, the menu ranges betweens the bar suitable shares into salads and generous mains and sides. THAT Buttermilk fried chicken has an Indian spiced crumb that lingers long on and satisfyingly on the palette. The 48 hour marinated breast has soft and succulent fall apart flesh that tangs with the buttermilk.

Chef Gary Thakur started his cooking career in a little village in the north of India, learning from his grandmother from the age of one. His eyes are alight with wonder and love when he talks of how she insisted that ever spice has a different best method of roasting. Incredibly he has brought this technique into this commercial kitchen, roasting each of the spices not only separately but by a different method, before grinding them freshly for the Buttermilk fried chicken breast crumb.

Also from the Customs House Bar Shares, the Customs charcuterie is an extraordinarily generous hearty tasty platter for only $25- consisting of mini chorizo, Boerewor sausage, prosciutto de Parma and house made pickles. And THOSE pickles... They are his grandmothers recipe, and they are sensational. Lightly spiced, lightly vinegared, slightly crunchy.

While either of these dishes make an expedition to the Customs House Bar a worthwhile experience, the quality of this gorgeous food doesn't stop there. A regular dining companion, my dining partner on that night, remarked that this is the best food we have had together. That may be true, but if not, the food at Customs House Bar is certainly right up there. A surprise of the night, because the quality just kept coming: Pork neck croquettes bites were sensuously moist, served with a chipotle aioli. The Wagyu burger is served with Swiss chees, whisky onions, grilled pineapple & beetroot chutney, beer battered chips.

The corn-fed chicken also makes an appearance on the mains, where it is marinated for less time, but non-the-less in buttermilk, and non-the-less tasty for it. It's stuffed with fetta, house semi-dried tomato, basil with quinoa salad, and a tangy preserved lemon & yoghurt dressing. An like all the other food it is truly delicious AND fantastic value.

Don't overlook the specials blackboard. It hangs on the right hand entrance as you face the Customs Bar House doors. Although the service is keen, so the staff will most likely recommend it. We tried a super duper example- the pictured chicken roti. Again the food is scrumptious, the Indian spices enhancing the tender chicken.

The Customs House Bar in Macquarie Place might be one of the oldest pubs in Sydney, but it dishes up one of the most delicious and generous and great value 21st century contemporary pub meals around.

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19 Macquarie Place
Circular Quay
+61 2 9259 7317

Mon – Fri midday – 10.30pm