Chippendale has become known as one of Sydney’s key creative art districts. More than a dozen art galleries and back streets adorned with street art murals all contribute to give the suburb its creative vibe. The area has also been the focus of a lot of creative architectural development over recent years and together with the diversity of students from the nearby Universities this has resulted in the traditional pubs and corner cafes of the small suburb being joined by vibrant Asian Hawker stalls, hipster cafes, high-end restaurants with degustation menus and small bars.
On a child-free Saturday in July, we took to the streets of Chippendale to experience a small sample of what this changing suburb has to offer.
Start at : Corner Broadway & Kensington Street
Walk along Kensington Street away from Broadway
- You may like to pop in to the foyer area of The Old Clare Hotel where you can see remnants of the history of the building including a window into the underground basement.
Turn left at the Mekong Restaurant and head into Kopi Tiam Spice Alley for some lunch.
- With a range of Asian hawker-style outlets, including Hong Kong yum cha, Japanese, Malaysian and Thai we were inspired to try a range of dishes including the delicious cheese-filled roti served with three dipping sauces ($6) and the Teh Tarik (an iced milk tea)
After getting your fill of tasty Asian fare, follow Spice Alley along to Koi Dessert Bar
- A restaurant opened by Masterchef Australia ‘dessert king’, Reynold Poernemo, Koi Dessert Bar is a two-storey venue with a Patisserie on ground level and a lounge bar/ restaurant upstairs. The place was buzzing with queues of people eager to sample the beautiful and delicate looking desserts and I was keen to join them. We shared a Strawberry & Lychee mousse with a strawberry gel and, while looking and sounding extremely sweet, it was very well balanced, soft and silky and… well, delicious.
Follow Kensington Street to Regent Street and turn right
Turn right again onto Wellington Street
- Wellington Street Projects is an artist run gallery space located on the ground floor of a warehouse surrounded by overgrown gardens and artist studios. After seeing the small, spray painted sign out the front we wandered past a restored Chinese fire truck in the driveway to discover artists at work in their garden studio, others chatting from their vine-covered balcony above us and a few steps leading to a small, unattended, two-room gallery adorned with the works of the current exhibition.
Follow Wellington Street to the end and turn left into Balfour Street where you will find White Rabbit Gallery.
- The White Rabbit Collection is one of the world’s largest and most significant collections of contemporary Chinese art. I have to admit, while I had heard of White Rabbit Gallery, I had completely under-estimated it. It is an incredible world-class gallery that also boasts a tea-house and shop full of unique gifts. We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the thoughtful, modern, multi-media works displayed across three levels of this fantastic gallery.
Continue down Balfour Street to the roundabout at the corner of Meagher Street where you will find Harrington Street Gallery
- An artists’ cooperative, Harrington Street Gallery is housed in a terrace with walls filled with works by developing and established artists.
Continue down Meagher Street towards Regent Street and you will pass Sterling Apothocary
- A hairdressing parlour and barber that emulates the comfort and style of the mid 1930s. This Broadsheet article gives you a good run down of what’s on offer. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to stop for a close shave or a haircut, but we did stop long enough to get a pic of the car parked out front that I am sure belonged to someone behind the Barber Shop’s expansive window.
Back to Regent Street, turn right and follow it down to Cleveland Street
Cross Cleveland Street at the lights and turn right.
- You will pass Workshop Sydney, offering fun and affordable short-courses in art, craft and life skills, and you will see some fantastic street art on display… you may even see a street artist at work!
Continue to the corner of Eveleigh Street & turn left
- After passing some brightly coloured yarn bombing and more street art you will likely see a gathering of people smoking on the street. That gathering of people will mark the entrance for the Cake Wines Cellar Door, a busy small bar with DJ playing tunes and a range of delicious Cake Wines on offer. This stop is technically Redfern, but we thought it was worth the short detour!
Retrace your steps back across Cleveland Street, down Regent Street and just past the corner of Meagher Street you will find Freda’s Bar & Canteen
- To get into Freda’s you first have to proceed down a nondescript driveway at the end of which you will be greeted by a cool warehouse space, a long bar with craft beer on tap, hip hop tunes creating a cool vibe and eclectic furnishings. Not a bad place to rest your weary feet and enjoy a local Newtowner beer while you consider what’s for dinner. Whilst Freda’s does serve food, we were keen to try somewhere else for a drink first.
Come out of Fredas, turn right on Regent Street
Turn right again on Meagher Street then take another right at Chippen Street.
- LPs Quality Meats is described by Good Food as a “cross between a Western saloon and a Bavarian bierhaus”. Our waitress was very friendly and attentive and looked as though she had stepped out of a 1950s pin-up calendar. The kitchen staff are, on the whole, tattooed and moustached or bearded. There is also a merch table where you can purchase trucker caps, tshirts and hot sauces. We just had a cocktail, but the food on offer here is a ‘man cave of meat’.
Back on Meagher Street (left out of Chippen Street) and you will see Ester Restaurant
- Unfortunately we hadn’t booked, and planned on turning up at opening time, but our cocktail at LPs Quality Meats meant we were delayed and missed out on getting one of the tables set aside for walk-ins. So, we didn’t get to dine at Esthers BUT from all of the reviews we have read, Matt Lindsay’s Esther Restaurant (2014 Time Out Sydney Restaurant of the Year) is not one to be missed. We’ll be back.
- So, we headed back down Kensington Street to the popular Kensington Street Social. It is a buzzing fine dining restaurant with a range of mains and sides designed to share. Although serves are a little on the small side, they are delicious and we really enjoyed the food and the atmosphere.
Turn right on Kensington Street and a few doors down on the left is Bar Chinois, a French Asian fusion bar with teapot cocktails. Located in a cute, tiny terrace the interiors are filled with over-the-top wallpapers and interesting decor. A perfect place to cozy up on a winter night.