REVIEW: The Carrington Hotel sits in what was once one of Sydney’s toughest suburbs. She was a rough old pub in her day, frequented by shady characters, SP bookies, gun carrying drinkers, and customers who generally knew how to use their fists.
Today, The Carrington is a little more sedate. In fact, a lot more sedate, although it could be said it’s a little ‘ruff’ in other ways. I’ll explain later.
Although she’s a neighbour of mine, I finally got the chance to lean on the bar of The Carrington for our first weekend pub lunch of the year.
Over the 10 years I’ve called Surry Hills’ home, I’ve passed by this little back-street pub. I’ve always meant to drop in for a beer, but for various reasons, never had the chance or opportunity to do so. Today though was my chance.
The Carrington claims to be Surry Hills’ oldest pub, with 1877 etched on her façade, and a sign proudly claiming the fact. The Carrington is still trading from her original building, although she has been extended and had her interior much altered and modernised. The inside of this pub has hints of her past, with 1940s wall tiles thankfully still gracing the main bar, although you need to struggle to find much else of her original fabric. In saying that though, The Carro, as the locals call her, still possesses an old world charm.
As many of Time Gents’ regular readers would realise, I have a soft spot for slightly ‘grubbier’ pubs, with that lived-in look, and that are not too tarted-up. I like my pubs with evidence of the people who once drank there, reminders of its past and scattered memorabilia about the bar room.
Although there’s not much of this at the Carrington, you can still feel the history inside this pub.
Now, remember I mentioned that The Carrington could be described as a “ruff” pub? Well, you see The Carrington is a ‘dog pub”. From your cutely groomed Chiwawa, to your clumsily, droopy eyed, red-setter, The Carrington is the inner-city Surry Hills’ answer to the outer suburbs’ dog parks.
There is a puzzling little room, between the public bar and the dining room, where dog owners are encouraged to eat, drink and be merry with their pooches. There they sit, with dogs at feet, just like country pubs of old.
Dogless, we chose to dine in the area where a sign warns, “No Dogs Past This Point”.
The price and quality of the food at The Carrington is on par for Surry Hills. We each enjoyed the Lord Carrington burger, with a generous serve of fries on the side, at $20 a pop. My burger, ground beef, bacon, tomato, cheese and beetroot between a brioche bun was washed down with pale ale.
A word of warning to those who enjoy traditional brews; The Carrington’s bar is devoid of taps bearing the badges of Tooheys, VB, Carlton or – to my dismay – Reschs.
Getting back to The Carrington and its association with man’s best friend, it reminds me of a little yarn when hosts Alfred and Thurza Reid were at the helm in 1925. The Reids were having a few marital problems at the time and Thurza was alone in the pub one winter’s night when her dog warned her of an attempted robbery.
Alfred, who had faced court in June for firing a gun at his wife, escaped conviction because Thurza refused to testify against him. Alone in the pub, her husband “away” on business, she was awoken by the repeated barking, and scratching at her door by her pet in the early hours of the morning. When she went to investigate, she was confronted in the hall by a man, who ran from the pub. A police search of surrounding streets was unable to find the would-be robber.
Back to the present, and The Carrington. Despite its modernisation and renovation the pub has a comfortable nostalgic atmosphere. I like it, although I could never make it my ‘local’ – there’s no Reschs on tap. Also, the main bar is way too dark for my liking, and could do with improved lighting. On the other hand, the dining area is well lit, and has a great feel. We could have easily settled in for a few Sunday afternoon drinks after our lunch; Maybe another time.
A three out of five schooner glass rating for The Carrington… Give Her a try… you won’t be barking up the wrong tree (sorry).
WAVED REVOLVER STRUGGLE IN HOTEL
ARMED MAN AT LARGE
A sensation was caused this afternoon, in the bar of the Carrington Hotel, Bourke street, Surry Hills, when a man, supposed to be demented, flourished a revolver and said that he would use it. He was quickly overpowered by the licensee, Mr. Jack James, and others, and the revolver taken from him. When released he said that he had two more revolvers, and drew one from his pocket. Before he could be caught again, he ran out of the hotel and along the street. The police were informed, and three constables were sent from Darlinghurst immediately, to look for him. At the time very few people were in the bar. The man, when he first entered, said that he had recently been released from an asylum. Apparently in want of employment, he has been roaming about the local streets for the last few months. Hitherto, however, his behavior has been quite satisfactory.
– The Sun (Sydney) Saturday 18 July 1931