REVIEW: Woolloomooloo’s Tilbury Hotel was the destination for this weekend’s pub lunch; a pub of contradiction, which I’ll explain a little later…
Although its working class, waterside worker days have been long assigned to the pages of history, the modernised Tilbury continues to hint at its past. I enjoyed this pub, with its restored façade, and retained and restored interior tiled walls.
I liked the way the owners of this pub have respected its history, while catering to a new generation of mainly younger cashed-up inner city dwellers, with a disposable income, and who want much more than sticky carpeted bars, and basic pub bistro menus.
In saying that though, the Tilbury wasn’t just about young people during our Sunday visit. Beside us, two older gentlemen polished-off two expensive looking bottles of red, while chatting civilly on their bench stools, as we waited patiently over a beer and lemon, lime and bitters, for our lunch.
The Tilbury over the past 12 years has restyled itself as one of Sydney’s must-go eateries and drinking destinations, with its fine dining restaurants, well-stocked wine cellar and a bistro style grill.
When we visited, the upstairs’ grill was pumping (as was the music from a DJ – a little too loud for this baby boomer). With a large balcony deck at the rear though, it was possible to escape the music if it wasn’t what you had in mind for a quiet Sunday afternoon drink or feed. There’s also downstairs’ main bar, where we chose to eat. It was much quieter, bright and airy.
We had the dry age black angus beef burger, with Swiss cheese, salsa and beer battered fries. It cost us $18 each for the burgers, which is reasonable considering… I’ve paid more than this for a burger in Sydney pubs… The burger, served-up on a tin plate, by the way was delicious.
I washed my lunch down with a long glass of Reschs, which was crisp, clean to the palate and refreshing. At the risk of getting off track here, I’ve noticed Reschs draught has improved on tap considerably in many of Sydney’s watering holes of late.
Anyway, back to the Tilbury. It sits within stones throw of the Woolloomooloo wharfs, where some of Sydney’s biggest money earners can be found. It seems there were quite a few of them at the Tilbury during our visit.
Ironically, and hence my earlier ‘contradiction’ label, the Tilbury also sits within a spit of where some of Sydney’s poorest folk can be found. In fact, near where I parked the car was a camp of about a dozen homeless people.
The Tilbury sits across the road from one of inner-Sydney’s last public housing estates, along with the all the social problems that go with these types of communities.
Looking from the window of this pub, I wondering how many who live south of Nicholson Street would wander into the bar of the Tilbury. I’m sure they would prefer the nearby Old Fitzroy or East Sydney Hotels, I thought.
That’s my reasoning behind my earlier ‘contradiction’ remark. Although it’s by no means a criticism, it sat in the back of my mind during this weekend’s pub lunch. A pub where the working class once gathered, had transformed into a place where in the past its present customers would never have dared tread.
Nevertheless, don’t let these remarks hold you back in paying a visit to the Tilbury. Although far from a traditional style Sydney pub, it holds a special place in the city’s hotel history, and I recommend you place it on your “to visit” list.