We have been looking forward to Corridor for a while, having been denied the chance to review our first cocktail bar by the untimely demise of the much lamented Jester Seeds. Corridor is an extremely trendy young persons bar. It may not be Newtown’s Hipster Central (there are lots of claimants for that title), but you can certainly see it from here.
Downstairs, Corridor lives up to its name and the implications of its subdivided address. It is long and narrow with the bar right at the front which means that it doesn’t take many punters to make it look busy. There are rooms upstairs as well but I have a recently buggered knee so I am sitting downstairs while I wait for Strop who has been working in Parramatta even though it is Sunday. Sydney’s public transport is not weather-proof, reliably failing if there is a heavy dew. You can rely on it to fail on weekends as well – the excuse of “Trackwork” would make some sense if it didn’t happen every weekend, and if there was even the slightest sign of things improving.
I have taken up a position behind a schooner of Young Henry’s Real Ale, at a tiny table and perched on a knee-unfriendly stool, as I wait for Strop to be delivered unto Newtown.
The music is good. This is significant as I am an old fart whose musical origins go waaaay back. But luckily everything old is new again, even if it is served up with a heavy dressing of hipster irony. The bar is resounding with retro blues-rock that wouldn’t have been out of place in 1970, and the barman is grooving along in a sailor’s hat, like the Skipper sported in Gilligan’s Island. My irony antennae are going off big time.
My irony related musings are interrupted by the arrival of Strop. While she is laying out her reasoned critique of Sydney Transport, in detail and with vigour, I observe over her shoulder that the poll-position street-front table is being vacated. Hating myself for short-circuiting her withering flow, I nevertheless point out the appealing nature of the newly vacant table. Strop is a big fan of sitting up the front and we are soon settled down with room to stretch our legs, and a passing parade of Newtown’s finest to observe and comment on.
Strop goes for a daiquiri while I decide to stay loyal to Young Henry – the evening seems a bit cool for cocktails to me, especially after Feej, which is now only a distant, but fond, memory.
The Po Boys on the menu catch our attention at first (I mean, what actually is a Po Boy?) but then everything else looks good as well. As we can’t decide what we’d prefer, we order a Tasting Plate reluctantly turning our backs on the Po Boys. This turns out to be the right thing to do. The Tasting Plate (actually two plates) is generous both in quantity and variety, and we are soon happily filling our faces and drinking, while commenting on the aesthetic and lifestyle choices of passers-by. Who could ask for more?
The food has a soul food/Louisiana theme going on and features onion rings, candied yams, spicy fried prawns and fish, cornbread, collard greens, sweet corn, a kind of cassoulet and a sweet potato puree. Lots of yums.
The splendid blues-rock soundtrack is soon supplemented with enthusiastic live vocal accompaniment, by the the barman, and one of his very good mates. They sing along heroicly, in authentic 1970s stadium-rock voices, belting out the timeless, and apparently universally adaptable, lyric “Happy Fa-ather’s Day Dan” to every song. Corridor, it turns out, is not entirely an irony-free zone.
When a man from the bar with a creative haircut, steps onto the pavement for a smoke we pay no never-mind – funny haircuts are a dime a dozen in Newtown. But when he pulls out a bright blue e-cigarette and starts sucking on it, suddenly we’re in Blade Runner territory and start to pay attention. This bloke turns out to be the head chef (why do so many cooks smoke?) so Strop gets busy asking him to interpret all the dishes spread before us. Pretty soon it’s turned into a cooking lesson as he explains how to make the collard greens using cabbage and prosciutto. That’s one we will have to try if we ever eat at home again.
For desert we stick with cocktails, a culturally-themed Mint Julep for me, and a banana rum thing for Strop. We drink these peering out across King Street, to our next target, Mad Mex. I have been thinking of developing a new rule which would cross this place and Guzman y Gomez out: Must Have Proper Plates – No Paper – What Do You Think This Is A Picnic? but Strop informs me that we are already booked in there next weekend with her sister and family. So there is no escape – we will have to do the whole Mexican stand-off gag thing.
As we are preparing to leave Corridor, the kitchen hand leaves for the night, wheeling a fixie through the still crowded bar. Maybe we are closer to Hipster Central than I thought.