Inner-city laneway, check. Historic building with interesting former uses (Greek men’s club; venereal diseases clinic; Masonic Hall), check. Industria-plus-charity-shop fittings and furnishings, check. Lighting mostly provided by candles in Mason jars, check. Bar and kitchen staff with Serious Pedigree doing on-trend foodie items (classic twist cocktails, craft brews, burgers and fried chicken), check. Mary’s is so hipster it’s almost in another dimension – one possibly located closer to Shoreditch or Williamsburg.
…and a shrine to PSH (unintentional?).
But it’s also great fun! We encountered no pretension, no über coolness in the service – in fact it was the complete opposite. The three cheerful waitstaff who tag-teamed our table did an awesome job, and we observed that the service on the whole was efficient and well organised for what was a totally full house Saturday night at a bar/resto split between two levels. The music was mostly ’90s yet hilariously unpredictable (Chili Peppers, Stone Roses, Soundgarden, Crazy Town?!) and the choice of 10+ different boutique gins (Blackwoods and 209 and Sipsmith, oh my!) was most pleasing.
Lemoncurd Sour: whisky, lemon juice, creamy honeycomb + honeycomb garnish. I do not have words to express how perfect this drink was.
BUT. I gots a problem with those American burgers everyone else loves. Unlike all my fellow Sydney food bloggers and hipster bar frequenters, I am not a fan of the Glorified McDonald’s school of hamburger. In-N-Out is not on my wishlist. I do not care for soft buns nor processed cheese. I like to need to chew my food more than twice before swallowing. I prefer to get my daily sugar fix from sources other than my dinner. I want a meal to satisfy me for longer than it takes to wipe my mouth with a paper napkin and push my plate (or here, plastic basket) away. And I also have zero interest in becoming a fried chicken ‘snob’ (there’s an oxymoron if ever I saw one).
Also they now only do fries, not chips. I like chips, not fries. (I am not making any friends with this post, I know.)
The Mary’s menu ticks all the right boxes if you like All American Burgers And Fried Chicken. And this was Premium Quality Fast Food: clearly no genetically modified cows were harmed in the process; the brioche buns would’ve been artisan and the salad organic; and I’m certain no spotty teenage employees had wee’d in the pickle vat. And our food was, technically and objectively, delicious It’s just not a deliciousness I appreciate. It’s the reason I haven’t eaten a Macca’s burger since I was 17. It’s the sugarsaltgreasemoresugar, alltheflavoursallatonce thing I’m just not that into.
The Mary’s Burger: a step up from the cheeseburger with salad and special sauce, and added bacon. (NB: There’s a reasons these photos aren’t in colour: they’re all rubbish, and making them artily black & white has improved them immensely.)
But I knew full well I wouldn’t come away from Mary’s raving about the food, so I am certainly not here to rant about it. Our merry party of four had a totally lovely time – great service, fun vibes, best seat in the house (the single bar table upstairs, clear above the level of everyone else’s conversations), crazy good cocktails and killer brews (the tart, cloudy Young Henry’s cider on tap is not to be missed). Word of warning though: our visit was very well timed. We arrived at 6:06pm as I don’t do queuing for more than 10 minutes as a general rule of sanity. We got the third-last table in the house. Half an hour later there was a queue out the door. THAT I don’t get even more than I don’t get the trashy burgers they were presumably all queuing for.
Mary’s Bloody Mary, pretending to be a burger with bacon and cheese. Curiously good, and not unlike a fried breakfast blended and served with vodka. And cheese on top. OK that sounds gross. Somehow it worked.
Go to Mary’s. I’m sure you’ll love it. I’ll be back for a drink. (And maybe a small bite of someone else’s burger, just to be polite.) 😜🍔🍟🍗🍸