People of Newtown: We’ve found your newest "little secret" watering hole. It’s called Secret Garden Bar, but shhh – you didn’t hear it from us.
Alright. Yeah, you did.
And well… now that the cat’s out of the bag, you may as well know the rest...
You’ll find this one tucked beside the Enmore Theatre, in the space where The Sixth Borough used to be. It’s the brainchild of Ashleigh Cavagnino who, funnily enough, studied law before career-change enlightenment struck and Jacqui Cunningham, who organises some of Sydney’s biggest lesbian events (Girl Thing, Birdcage). If you’re looking for her, she’ll likely chatting to mates and regulars, or DJing when the decks aren’t being spun by other stellar names. Listen out for FBi Radio’s Shag, Benace the Menace and Mr. Beard on a Friday WAVES event night.
But back to the bar.
Get in on the late night bites and stellar tunes of this arts bar.
The vibe: Depends what the DJ's spinning, but chilled alternative works for us.
Cuisine: South American.
Ideal for: Casual meets up, chilling villains and Enmore Theatre goers looking to kill some time over a drink.
Bartender’s choice: Lady Killer ($14)
Try the... Arepa with spicy pulled pork ($8)
By the way... Wednesday is Wolves & Lace night: a showcase of local artworks and Fridays is DJ spinning WAVES night.
The theme here is quite obvious: it’s a secret garden getaway. Ashleigh calls it a “cosy little escape from the concrete jungle” that is the busy city. And it is. Capped at 48 pax, Secret Garden Bar is a comfy abode of ornate metal benches, wooden planters, creeping plants and garden tools sourced from Ashleigh’s nonno and nonna’s shed. Look out for the shovel on the side wall – nonno put up a good fight to keep it, but in the end Ashleigh managed to convince him to let it go. Grandparents, Am i right?
When Secret Garden officially launches, they’re hoping to add to the decor a live ant farm in a frame on the wall and a healthy faux grass lawn running along the ceiling. For now, the ladies are sticking to potted plants hanging off every eave and ladder they can muster.
So far, the cocktail menu is looking long and healthy, although this will be refined as the days go on. Expect faves like Pimms and Captains Spiced Mule jugs to bring life to the party, as well as specials like a Garden Made Lemonade (w/ Bulliet Bourbon or Johnnie Walker whiskey, built with sugar syrup, fresh mint and topped with soda and lime) and the Lady Killer (Tanqueray gin built over ice with triple sec, pineapple juice and passion fruit pulp) to go down a treat. I’m told the drinking orders vary, depending on what’s playing at The Enmore that evening.
Will it be wine and comedy, beer and a rock act, or cocktails and a burlesque show? Of course, none of these pairings are cut and dry and you can drink whatever you want to.
If the girls behind the bar are run off their feet, I suggest you make yours an easy Bulleit Batches pre-mixer. These whisky-based mixes go down quick and come in three different flavours. Try them all.
In terms of food, Secret Garden’s cuisine of choice is the arepa. It’s a gluten-free Colombian cornmeal pocket, packed with either three kinds of cheese, lime poached chicken w/ avocado and cilantro, spicy pulled beef w/ salsa, or black beans and feta (coming soon). While the cheese is a great option for vegos, I fell in love with the spicy pulled beef. Word to the wise, the helping of meat is generous, meaning the eating is dangerously messy, so grab a napkin before you go in.
They’re looking to expand this menu soon, with plantain chips to snack on and tasting boards with ‘slider’ versions of all four arepas on offer – so finally you can stop working off my personal taste and start working off your own.
The arts-inclined should pop in on a Wednesday night for Secret Garden’s Wolves & Lace event. It showcases all manner of local arts, from a live band, to a live graffiti or 3D artists at work. If nothing else, culture vultures should take a peek at the bathroom. It may be small, but it’s splashed to the corners with a decadent tropo jungle mural by Takie Art. It also sports a retro-cool glowing green toilet seat cover decorated in frogs.
Pretty fun, huh?
Address: 134a Enmore Rd, Newtown
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Friday & Sunday 5pm-11pm, Saturday 5pm-10pm
Phone number: 0409 284 928