The Commons Local Eating House
32 Burton Street, Darlinghurst, NSW
02 9358 1487
The unmistakable, 164 year old colonial sandstone blocks out the front of the heritage cottage in Burton Street, Darlinghurst, are a giveaway that you have stumbled upon The Commons Local Eating House and Downtown Bar. The columns were once part a dairy farmhouse, with convict common gardens located on its corner. Convict markings are still visible on the walls.
Yes this little hideaway on the city fringes has a colourful past, from farm house to pop-up bar for Pure Blonde, to 2010 when it became the shared passion of friends, Christopher and Gabrielle Moore and Robert Barton, and their aspirations for providing Sydney’s drinkers and diners with something a little different – and what they have called The Commons.
In 2011 the award-winning downstairs bar (formerly the servants’ quarters) was transformed by Luca Capechi into a speak-easy style cocktail bar, featuring only classic pre-1950s cocktails, craft beers from New South Wales, and wines from around Australia. It is a unique space where you will often find live Delta Blues, Chicago Blues and East Coast Jazz. At the same time, Luca’s wife, Sara, used her 12 years hospitality experience in Italy and Australia to manage the restaurant. Together with business partner and wine specialist, Alessandro Schioppetto, they created the restaurant which specialises in dishes using local, ethically-sourced, and seasonal produce.
“We serve honest, flavoursome food and quality drinks,” said Sara. “We believe wholeheartedly in doing fewer things, but doing them better.” The European chefs work closely with local suppliers to create dishes that highlight the exceptional produce, serving customers who care where their food comes from.
They purchase nose to tail beef from Gundooee Organic Wagyu from Dunedoo and lamb from Mirrool Creek in the Riverina region raised by a select group of producers. This is supplemented by charcuterie from Pino’s Dolce Vita in Kogarah, sustainable seafood, free-range eggs and coffee supplied by Pablo & Rusty’s.
Here is a venue that does not pay mere lip service to the terms ‘local’ or ‘sustainable’. It acts as an urban farm in its own right. Where else can you find a restaurant in the city where you can order and collect local, organic fruit and vegetable boxes every week?
On selected Wednesday nights, you will smell the exquisite flavours coming from the spit roast in the front courtyard as you enter. They slow cook a fabulous lamb or a weaner pig all day over real Australian hardwood charcoal, allowing the smokiness to penetrate the melt-in-your-mouth result. Previously they have spit roasted a Lynden pasture raised bio-dynamic Demeter certified lamb from Oberon, a humane choice weaner from the lovely Pillar Rock in Binnaway, and a Moorlands Bio-dynamic Texel Lamb, all supplied by Feather and Bone Providore. They match the Spit Roast with a special glass of barrel aged Regal Rogue Australian Vermouth, that can be enjoyed neat or on the rocks with an orange wedge.
Owner Sara sums it all up perfectly. “Sydney is a city where everything is shining and new then there’s this little farmhouse in the heart of Darlinghurst. We take the farm to the table and we give it to our customers in a heritage-listed building, in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It’s absolutely unique.”