The Wayward brewery is a relatively new arrival in our neck of the woods. It is hidden away, down a side street in a light industrial part of Camperdown, so it could have been here for a while. It is one of those places that you have to know about to know about. Strop and I ventured across Pyrmont Bridge Road to check it out on a cold winters night. It wasn’t our first visit to Wayward, that had been the week before, when we braved the tail end of an East Coast low to have a drink at our new local with Paul, Ashley, Ned and Mark. It was very jolly inside, with live music, a convivial crowd and quite a lot of beers were drunk. Especially by Strop.
Wayward is open four nights a week as a bar, but I assume that the brewery part is going full-time. The arrival experience a takes you down a broad ramp into a cavernous space with a bar on one side, a brewery round the corner, and a couple of smaller rooms at the back, that look a bit like Hitler’s Bunker if he had been around in the 1970s, or maybe somewhere in Falujah.
Reassuringly, the bar staff are all heavily tattooed and bearded, so at least we know we’re still in the inner west. They have a few wines for sale, but the main deal at Wayward is definitely beer. There is a row of numbered beer taps along the wall behind the bar, and above them a beer menu. There are a lot on offer, and the descriptions are pretty fruity. But in a good way – lots of pineapple, raspberry and passionfruit mentions.
The night Strop and I went on our own, the place was packed, mainly with thirty-something men. It turned out that the brewery was running tours, and most of the punters had turned up to be shown around and to try the range no doubt. Strop and I found a free table at the back, in one of the concrete bunkers. These things are so secure that no phone signals can get through, which might explain why there were some spare tables in there. The bunkers are furnished somewhat eccentrically, and feature a wide range of furniture. The chairs were very comfortable in a way that only the 1970s managed, although at the cost of aesthetics.
My first choice beer, the Camperdown (nominative determinism rule), wasn’t available, so Strop bought me an Otis, presumably named after the lifts. She chose the appropriately named Charmer for herself, which was strong and chocolatey. My Otis on the other hand had distinct passionfruit tones, which was pleasantly weird.
In the laneway outside Wayward there was a tent set up, and a sign promising Italian food. We went the whole hog and ordered ragu in focaccia, arancini, and polenta chips. It was all good but the ragu was a standout, especially on a cold and rainy night. Very warming. El yummo.
You can also get pizza ordered in from one from of the local pizza joints. Unfortunately, it isn’t one of the local pizza joints that we favour with our custom, but I will be more than happy if the guy in the tent keeps serving up the ragu.
Another new arrival in our area is Camperdown Commons. This is what has become of the old Camperdown Bowling Club. Nowadays it is a restaurant slash urban farm. I think I would have rather kept the bowlo but it had an unfortunate habit of going broke, and, frankly, serving crap food. The two facts may be related.
The new venture has high ideals, grows its own kale, has a chook yard, even serves Wayward ales, but we are yet to see if it walks the walk. There is a fair amount of style over substance going on. It is cleverly styled with lighting so subtle that Strop had to pull out the torch on her phone to read the menu. The furniture is very nice, slightly rustic, and wooden, and there are big tubs of firewood lying around as well. I kept looking but I couldn’t find a fireplace anywhere. Maybe they’re going to do wood-fired pizza.
During the schmoozing-of-the-neighbours stage of development, there was a lot of talk about this being a local joint for local people. A quick glance at the price list suggests that it is the sort of local you are probably going to save for the odd special occasion. Strop and I dropped in for a quick meal on its first weekend. The bar food was okay, but nothing to write home about.
Camperdown Commons (surely a name devised by a committee) promotes its locally-sourced everything, and ethical proteins etc, but there are nowhere near enough tattoos for my liking. Given it’s size, it is going to have to drag a lot of punters through the door. We shall see. I hope it is a success, especially after all the work they have done on the site. But unless they review the prices I will keep heading across Pyrmont Bridge Road for my Wayward beers and the ragu from the tent.
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