Bar Profile: Freda’s

Chippendale chimes in with something special

Address: 109 Regent Street, Chippendale
Phone: 02 8971 7336

By Edward Washington


Freda’s (first featured in February’s How To shoot) is tucked neatly down a narrow brick alley driveway in Chippendale, Sydney. Opening in October of last year the venue was ‘soft trading’ for a few months to get things right before it launched itself officially to the public. This hasn’t stopped it already developing a cult following however, and Marty Campaign (general manager) was keen to talk up the venue’s early popularity.

“During café hours we have a solid loyal following amongst the creative professionals and other workers in & around the area,” Campaign explained. “Each evening we are seeing a differing vibe, mid-week builds well into our weekends with a broad range of age groups and backgrounds. Recently Sundays have attracted a mix of people coming in to checkout the eclectic music from our guest DJ lineup.”

The venue has a small entourage driving its success. Simon Cancio and Nick Menyhart joined with Philip and David Abram who were the principle architects and the ‘brains’ behind the concept. “They wanted to bring something different to the Sydney nightlife market, Campaign said, and the team set about converting the unique space into a viable and attractive tippling and dining den.

Once the venue location was confirmed it was a relatively quick turn-around to bring it up to scratch, with interior construction and fit out taking roughly three months. There had been about 12 months of ‘dreaming and planning’ prior to this, as well as a few delays with licensing, construction and other small issues, but all in all the road to Fread’s was pretty well sealed.

When you’re inside the stark industrial feel is obvious, yet Freda’s emits a noticeable warmth from its bare brick walls. Using raw building materials and oregon, pine and zinc finishes to complement the existing character of the century old warehouse the architects have delivered a venue that will entice you to stick around.

“The detailing has been influenced by crafted design from contemporary Japanese architects to mid-century Scandinavian,” Campaign explains. “Working with a highly skilled carpenter and furniture craftsmen the custom built stools, benches, tables & light fittings all work to support the existing warmth of the space and offset the eclectic decorative elements”.

Backing up this designer’s aesthetic dream is a hard and fast drinks offering that’ll be sure to whet the satisfaction of any dedicated tippler. “Our drinks list is designed to appeal to a broad range of people at differing occasions,” Campaign enthused. “Whether a sneaky craft beer with lunch, a boozy aperitif wine or Champagne affair, or a serious light to dark spirit cocktail and over the bar banter session.”

Beer wise the taps feature two regular brews and a third rotating specialty selection that Campaign enjoys mixing up every couple of weeks. “At the moment we have a summery sessional Kolsch and the 4 Pines signature Pale Ale; a hoppy APA style brew which has been the most popular so far. Our specialty beer on tap right now is a single hop – Sorachi Ace, golden ale.”

If you’re looking to up the ante with a cocktail then the collaboration between Campaign and Evan Jones (bar manager) is what you’ll be diving into. It’s a short list by their admission – 10 to 15 – however it’s ever changing. “They’re all inspired by or adapted from classics,” says Campaign. “All elements including ice, ingredients, glassware, mixing utensils, ergonomic bar station design with built in freezers and construction of the drinks themselves has been considered during the planning stage.”

From the food menu…

If you haven’t been down then you’re missing out on a seriously cool space to enjoy what’s billed as ‘unadorned and unadulterated food’. For the chefs behind Freda’s food menu it is all about beautiful flavours, improvised and interpreted with a respect for history. “It is a seasonal driven menue with a mantra based around bread,” Campaign explains.

“Weekly day time offerings are house bread sandwiches with slow braised and roasted meats and vegetables, such as our 12 hour roasted pork shoulder, cabbage and salsa verde. In the evenings we create food for bread-composed salads, fish and vegetables that are raw, cured and marinated around oils, vinegars and salt allowing us to be unique in our compliment to enjoying a drink.”

“For example, our Hoshizaki ice machine produces 28x28x32mm ice cubes which are then double frozen to fit the diameter of our tumblers, highballs & mixing glasses neatly – this delivers drink consistency and greatly assists workflow during busy times.” It’s not all set menu and precision ice cubes however, and Campaign insists that they encourage guests to drink ‘off the menu’ if that’s what they like. “We’ll also throw in as much, or as little, drink related banter as can be enjoyed,” he jokes.

Freda’s is fortuitous in that it is coming online at a time when Sydney is experiencing a hospitality boom. Numerous new and unique venues are popping up and the continual growth of the Sydney ‘foodie’ community is pushing venue operators to be better at what they do. The opening of new spaces for bars is creating a veritable smorgasbord of options as well, and Freda’s sits the bill and is standing out from the crowd.

“Our chief points of difference lie in the product and our service focus,” Campaign insists. “We aim to provide a customer experience different from the average bar, drawing on the backgrounds and ideas of the people behind it. “The venue’s interior design, food menus and our beverage program has evolved through years of work experience.”

Campaign is positive about the start of Freda’s and the road ahead. “Our first few months of operation have been busy and we’ve attracted a very solid regular customer base in a relatively short time. With support and consistency we hope to build a long term institution.”

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