The Oxford Tavern now features a stylish new bar and one of Sydney’s Bet Pub menus after a rapid revamp
Over the past two years, the Odd Culture Group has been busy. To name but a few of their efforts, the hospitality team brought back the beloved Duke of Enmore, opened their flagship King Street wine bar, gave The Old Fitz kitchen a huge overhaul and helped redesign the drinks menu at Club 77 as part of the resurgence of the iconic nightclub. More recently, Odd Culture has turned its attention to Petersham mainstay The Oxford Tavern, giving the beloved neighborhood pub its biggest aesthetic and culinary makeover in a decade.
If you haven’t noticed the Tav being closed for renovations, that’s because it’s not. The pub is being developed bit by bit while the other areas remain in use, and the first section of the major revamp has been unveiled – a stylish and spacious front bar paying homage to the venue’s history and a new menu of dishes and drinks.
Upon entering, you’ll be greeted by this expansive dining room featuring dim lighting, original Oxford Tavern neon signs and a photo wall dedicated to past iterations and memorabilia from the New Canterbury Road spot. Gone is the stage, giving the bar more space for dining, while giving owners the ability to clear tables and create a free-flowing open space for events and concerts.
Along with the front bar scene, the emphasis on American-style barbecue on the menu is also gone. “We felt it was time to move away from the focus on American barbecue, which has really had a golden age over the past decade,” said James MacDonald, Odd’s executive chef. CultureGroup. “We’ve moved to an elevated, modern pub menu with well-made classics that have more of a global influence rather than just the US.”
Fans of smoked meats at The Tav need not worry, the beer garden’s smoker will still be in full use whipping up chicken wings, beef for brisket pies and lamb for lard. lamb and pappardelle with feta incredibly more. And, thankfully, the pub’s beloved Sunday roast isn’t going anywhere.
Elsewhere on the menu, there are two styles of dishes essential to a good pub menu – top-notch main courses and crowd-pleasing sharing plates to enjoy over a drink. On the snack side, it is impossible to miss the tarama with bread fresh from the grill. There’s also smoked eggplant dip, spicy cauliflower curry, tangy salt and pepper squid, and chicken liver pate.
Turn to the sector and you can follow the expected route – chicken cutlet, steak or fish of the day – or you can take the path less traveled in the area of pub streams. There’s half a kilo of mussels or the aforementioned pappardelle, and the ricotta ravioli with brown sage butter is reminiscent of the simple but irresistible dishes you’ll find in Sydney’s best Italian restaurants.
Drinks complete the new look of Oxford Tavern, a specialty of the Odd Culture Group. The wine list is varied but not intimidating, jumping from classic drops to funky varieties, including pet-nats, fresh reds, and orange wines. There’s a playful array of signature cocktails, including frozen margaritas and the unmissable Jameson Black Barrel-based puncheon sour. Plus, the juicer can be turned on to make Sydney’s favourite, fresh apple juice with your choice of whiskey or rum.
“There’s nothing better than being able to eat and drink well at your local bar and that’s what we do best,” said Jordan Blackman, head of beverages at the Odd Culture Group.
Renovations will continue over time, the next stage of renovations will see the wall between the back bar and beer garden open with folding doors.
The Oxford Tavern is located at 1 New Canterbury Road, Petersham. It is open from noon to midnight Monday to Thursday, noon to 2 a.m. on Friday, noon to 3 a.m. on Saturday and noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday.
Images: Kitti Gould