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Copyright Melway Publishing 2003.
Reproduced from Sydway Edition 9 with permission.
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There's nothing like a liquid lunch on a friday afternoon, and where better than the Excelsior, just a hop skip and a jump from Central and revelling in post-refit newness.
The pokies have now been sealed away in their own little box instead of crowding out the windows, and the difference is immense. You can see out of the windows now, and feel natural sunlight streaming into the bar. The pool table is still in pride of place, but now there's more room to take a shot.
Out in the back the Bistro is still there, but opened up appreciably with a new menu, including $5 daily specials and a nice mixture of dishes where before there was little more than pasta. Live music is still on, but there's a big screen over the stage for daytime viewing (the MTV video awards were on this lunchtime.
Significantly for me, the patio area has been opened up and several groups of people were enjoying a nice open air beer for lunch. Good stuff - I'd never seen this opened up before, so the new broom is cleaing up in a big way, and the improvements have taken what was already a good venue and squeezed extra quality out of it. The new Excelsior is definitely worth a look if you're in the area.
review by: Jason
A quiet afternoon off work gives one the opportunity to see pubs in a different light. Visiting the Excelsior, particularly, was almost like having a view lifted. I'd visited in the past only on crowded evenings when the loud and smoky back room was packed with jostling people, but a fresh look in the daytime has helped.
The pub is currently up for sale, so I'm hoping this review won't be invalidated in a couple of weeks by closure and re-opening as some godawful sports shop (the fate which the former Albury has in store). The Excelsior is great. Sure, there are too many pokies, but they're sensibly hidden away behind their own little barrier, mitigating the effects somewhat.
Out the back in the daytime is relaxed with comfy armchairs and sofas, surrounded by music posters, strange torso-shaped lamps and lots of drapes. The Italian bistro is still going in a cheap and cheerful fashion - choose from the pastas and three sauces and get stuck in. Having been away from the excelsior for well over a year I found it quite refreshing to catch it in a quieter moment.
And what's more, they have James Squire on tap.
review by: Jason
Surry Hills certainly has a great variety of pubs, and is lucky enough to have two of what we think are the top five music pubs in Sydney. At the very top of Foveaux Street is the Hopetoun, and further down towards Central sits the subject of this review - the Excelsior.
It's played host to some great gigs over the years, despite the occasional fuss from local residents over the noise. The pub, now well soundproofed, is still going strong.
It's got a slightly rougher reputation than the Hopetoun, as most pubs within stumbling distance of a railway station tend to get, and the ultra violet anti-junkie lights in the toilets add to this impression, but to be honest, we've never had a problem here. It's always been friendly, if a little cramped.
review by: Jason