338 Kent St
Sydney, NSW 2000
As unbelievable as it may seem, I have finished the first year of medical school! It was simultaneously the longest and shortest year ever; whilst it felt like classes would never end, the assessments just came rushing up one after another. Almost before I even realised, I was stumbling out of my final exams, absolutely drained after the 7-hour ordeal, and ready for some sustenance and a drink.
Refusing to walk any more than absolutely necessary (I still can’t believe that Sydney is such a shocker to get around – I miss Melbourne’s trams heartily), I decided to make camp at Since I Left You, aka SILY, a rather hipster sort of bar hidden away between 3 heritage-listed storehouses in the city centre.
SILY brands itself as ‘your friendly neighbourhood small bar’, and whilst I think that is a bit of an unrealistic aspiration for a bar right in the middle of the concrete jungle, it is at any rate very popular with the local office workers. As a result, we weren’t able to get any of the prime spots in the courtyard, despite it only being 5:15pm, and were instead relegated to the long, narrow indoor space that housed the bar. The space isn’t as comfortable as it could have been, but it is a bar after all, and the amazing wall-to-wall graffiti art really helped liven the place up. In fact, props to all of the graffiti art at SILY – the 10-metre-tall piece splashed over one of the courtyard walls is especially impressive.
Gin and Tonic ($9) is what Chris orders whenever he’s forced to have an adult beverage, and to be honest, neither of us knows much about it; this was normal I guess?
My Watermelephant ($18) on the other hand was super delicious. I loved the refreshing, summery flavours of watermelon and mint, and the addition of my favourite bianco vermouth gave the drink its complex, botanical notes. Rounded out with a warm, smoky base of mezcal vida, this was drink that tasted simultaneously fun and sophisticated.
There’s no kitchen at SILY; most of their menu is either served cold, or cooked in the sandwich press or waffle iron. One of the few hot snacks available was the Grilled Csabai ($12), a platter of grilled Hungarian sausage with sliced baguette and salsa verde. The sausages were enjoyably meaty and smoky, but it was the tangy salsa verde, with its unexpected dash of mint, that really brought it to life.
The Waffledillas ($10) sounded exciting on paper, but was really just a quesadilla cooked in a waffle iron. On the upside, this meant that there was an abundance of crispy, cheesy edges, and the pockets formed by the waffle iron made for a convenient dip receptacle. Unfortunately the quesadilla itself wasn’t that great. Not only was it practically empty, aside from a bit of cheese and small amount of veggies, it was also much too spicy, to the point where it was no longer enjoyable. And trust me – I usually like chilli, and a lot of it.
The crowning jewel of our meal was The Cheeseburger Toastie ($18), which was wrong in all the right ways. It smelt exactly like a McDonald’s cheeseburger, and I defy you to think of anything else as you chow down on the combination of beef and melted cheese, topped with chopped onions and pickles, and the classic duo of tomato sauce and mustard.
The toastie also gets bonus points for being cut up into handy, sharable pieces! But points taken away for serving the toastie not with French fries, but actual French Fries; as in the kind you get in a packet in the chip aisle of the supermarket. But then again, serves me right for not noticing the ™ symbol on the menu I suppose.
I’ll admit, SILY isn’t as much of a restaurant as its inventive menu had initially implied. I was expecting something more along the lines of Cabinet Bar and Balcony, where people come for drinks, but also for food that is casual yet well-made. With that said however, the food certainly wasn’t bad, and you’ve got to try the cheeseburger toastie at least once. I won’t be coming back specifically for a meal, but I can see myself dropping by if I were in the mood for a casual drink, and maybe a little something to eat.
Rating: 12.5/20 – mctoastie.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.