Redfern’s Best Kept Secrets
It only recently occurred to me that Sydney siders’ aren’t well versed in the Redfern hood or - as locals call it - The Fern. I sat in a Newtown bar last week talking to some friends about new places to go - not a single one of them mentioned anything in The Fern. In the last five years Redfern has dramatically changed. There now exists an emerging art scene, a whole new slew of ridiculously cool businesses and a sense of community unmatched by an another Sydney suburb. Having undergone significant gentrification it appears to weirdly have only resulted in the community’s newfound unification.
With Instagram accounts like @redfernlyf and Facebook pages like “Ibis Out of Redfern NOW” popping up it is clear that the Redfern veterans have an on going love affair with the kookiest town in Sydney. I know I do – I couldn’t imagine life without my fellow Redfern residents. As it turns out – the best-kept secrets are not necessarily the places of Redfern, but the people. You feel quite humbled living in a community that loves and embraces you, regardless. As your questionably official Redfern correspondent – I have compiled a list of the best-kept secrets of Redfern.
1. Scouts Honor - 118 George Street, Redfern 2016
The Redfern Legend: George
The Top Pick: Meatball Sub ($10)
The Intro: Don’t let the minimally clean exterior fool you; Scout’s is one badass café. Scouts Honor is unquestionably my new local and for good reason. Amazing coffee, gorgeously personable staff, ten-dollar gourmet sandwiches and Tripp the Poodle (yes, named after Tripp Fontaine.) What more could you actually ask for? Scout’s Honor owner and new local legend – George – has revolutionized the Redfern lunch hour. Every sandwich comes with a piece of fruit and every coffee comes with a piece of candy on top. It’s the little things at Scout’s that remind their customers why they made the right lunchtime choice. The other secret about Scout’s is the unsuspecting baked goods strategically placed on the counter; they may look like stock standard café baking but trust me they are something else. Maybe even the best muffin I’ve ever had... Sorry Mum. I highly recommend following them on Facebook and Instagram for your daily dose of food porn and specials.
2. Tany’s Japanese - 92 Redfern Street, Redfern 2016
The Redfern Legend: Tany (Identity TBC)
The Top Pick: Bento Box Lunch Special ($12)
The Intro: Even though I only recently discovered Tany’s, I have spent more than my fair share of lunch hours there. I was initially put off by the strangely un-Japanese aesthetic of the restaurant. However, what the restaurant lacks in kitsch Japanese décor it makes up in next level Bento Box game. I have never been served by such archetypically kawaii staff. While I do not know who this Tany character is – if they have this kind of authority over Japanese cuisine they deserve mad respect. Props to Tany. Make sure you’re all prepped and ready to go with your pronunciation of “Domo Arigato” because you’re absolutely going to need it.
3. The Dock – 182 Redfern Street, 2016
The Redfern Legend: Jed
Top Pick: You’re usual, because at The Dock – you’re king.
The Intro: A few months back I was wondering down Redfern St. to claim some well-deserved Thai food. On route to my usual Thai haunt, I was coerced inside of The Dock by a bunch of regulars. First step into this raucous little gem - I was sold. I quickly shed my desire for Thai food as I sloshed back my first G&T and shimmied to the sweet sounds of old school Snoop Dogg. “Welcome Home” I thought. Friday nights at The Dock are absolutely colossal. Leave your inhibitions at the door because almost everyone else does. An end of week epic featuring under $10 drinks, free popcorn, an insatiable pop/hip-hop/disco playlist and a pack of general legends throwing shapes on the tiny d-floor. When a man as swarthy as Jed owns an establishment, you know you’re in for a good time.
4. Redfern Convenience Store - Corner of Redfern & George St, Redfern 2016
The Redfern Legend: Hasim
The Top Pick: Reece’s Giant Peanut Butter Cups (Yes. They really exist.)
The Intro: Never in my life did I ever think I would have a local convenience store. Of course, everyone has that one convenience store they shamefully shuffle to at 11PM to satiate their Pringle addiction, but never have I ever felt more at home under fluro lights in aisles of condoms, canned tuna and imported candy. Actually, the store might as well be called Hasim’s Imported Candy Emporium because well – quite frankly – that’s what all the locals go their for. The right wall – as you walk in – is lined with the greatest members of the Chocolate Hall of Fame. Reece’s, Hersheys, Dove, Lindt, Willy Wonka, - you name it, he’s got it. The first time I met Hasim I commented on the unbelievable selection. We’ve been best friends ever since. On the off chance, I go in to buy a mixer for pre’s (before I head down to The Dock – duh) Hasim will always spot me a cheeky little Lindt ball. If you’re ever in need of anything found in a convenience store don’t you dare head anywhere else. Just look at that Tic Tac selection below.
5. Mickey’s Fruit and Veg – 86 Pitt Street, Redfern 2016
The Redfern Legend: Chris
The Top pick: Truffle Salami (Sliced by Chris to your personal preference).
The Intro: Mickey’s may just be one of my favorite guilty pleasures in the Fern. This well stocked, traditional local grocer has become my go-to spot for picnic supplies and a good time. Even though Mickey is the proprietor, the locals know to drop in for a chat with Chris - the in house sausage expert. He may be one of the most passionate people I’ve ever met, and boy does he know his cured meats. Never have I ever seen a man handle a sausage with so much care and reverence. The rule of the house; you try before you buy. Want to risk the truffle imbued salami but not sure if you’re ready to take the plunge? Chris will always oblige with a handy taste tester and a glowing recommendation. Expect to walk in with a 1 cheese 1 meat limit and walk out with enough food to feed a small village. If the world had more Chris’s in it, it would be a much happier place.
6.Work Shop – 80 George Street, Redfern 2016
The Redfern Legends: Matt & Chet
The Top Pick: Craft Singles Dating Night
The Intro: Workshop is bringing an entirely original and newfound attitude to being crafty. In a world where we would rather take a phone call than a walk, Matt and Chet are encouraging us to turn our phones off and reconnect with the world around us. While Work Shop has garnered significant notoriety, I believe the secret behind this epic business is the two kind-hearted, encouraging and absolutely fearless entrepreneurs who have bet everything on making a change in the Redfern community. Their risk is paying off as they gain more and more social momentum. Their Craft Singles Dating Night is testament to the way they want people to reconnect with each other – get off Tinder, get down to Craft Singles. The boys – Matt & Chet – will instantly become your best mates and you’ll never want to leave. Which is why I didn’t. I run my business’s office out of Work Shop and three months later I couldn’t imagine not having afternoon tea & knock off beers with the two faces of – what is now becoming – a Redfern institution.
7. Kevin’s Op Shop: A Pair of Chairs – 80 Regent Street, Redfern 2016
The Redfern Legend: Kevin
The Top Pick: Retro Kitchenware (Because, let’s be honest, Kevin won’t let you leave unless you buy some repossessed kitchen jars)
The Intro: Alright. We all know that ever since Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” took out the 2013 Triple J Hottest 100 and claimed its rightful spot as the most karaoke’d song by a red haired man since Rick Astlee’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” Op Shops have become a serious thing. And the prices reflect the newfound fame – $50 for a pair of jeans? - Vinnie’s Newtown… You’re out.
But there is one last save haven left in the inner-west: Kevin’s Op Shop. It’s like the nirvana of all you’ve come to want from an Op Shop: Great weird curiosities, a kooky owner and a real honesty about the place. There is no pretention here. You go in and you ask for what you want. If Kevin has it he will quickly furrow it out of an old box and into your hands. If he doesn’t: bad luck. Kevin is so well versed in his inventory of goods that there is no need to fumble around for anything. Be prepared to lose a good half hour to this place. Even if what you’re looking for isn’t in the shop - Kevin always has an amazing story to tell about his latest finds.
By Danielle Pearce