When I hear the words "pop up", I can't help remember those gimmicky candy lollipops I used to buy as a kid. The ones that looked like glue sticks that you could have a quick lick on then put away for later or maybe that was a push pop
Nevertheless in a similar vein, a pop up enterprise is by its nature fun but fleeting which makes it all the sweeter. Pop ups remain the craze in Sydney, with pop up bars and restaurants the current wave. Sydneysiders have been treated already this year to Surry Hills' El Loco and Double Bay's Pelicano both appearing at the Sydney Opera House forecourt over summer. Pelicano pop up bars have since been popping up all over town, recently in Martin Place during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia, and now as the latest incarnation "The Park" at Centennial Park, a dual effort with The Island of Rose Bay.
Located on the Superintendents Residence lawn, next to the Paddington Gates, the theme is farmyard chic, one I dare-say has not been done before, or at least quite so well! Seat yourself at a white picnic table while the DJ pumps out ambient tunes from behind stack of hay bales, bar staff in checked blue shirts wheel over barrows loaded with drinks and a spit roast turns on the Superintendent's porch - it's oh so lovely.
But it's the stunning parkland surrounds that make this bar - sublime on gorgeous sunny day, at sunset, and even after nightfall when the fairy lights turn on and the DJ gets the grassy dance floor pumping to groovin' tunes rest assured the theming does not extend to the music!
Cocktails are $15 for a glass but if you're with a group it makes sense to get a milkpitcher-full for $39 try the grapefruit concoction, just the thing for a sultry evening.
Food starts early but the popular dishes will sell out by sundown. We tried the pumpkin salad and spicy chicken both delicious, although Tasty Chicken might have been a more apt name.
The highlight? In the spirit of their Centennial Park host, you're welcome to your picnic rug and spread out on the lawn. Bring your dog and your kids too if you want. A picnic in the park is one thing, but a picnic in a bar in a park is what I call bliss. It will be a hard act to follow come winter.
Pop-ups tend to appear in repurposed, typically outdoor spots they often go where no bar has gone before, such Underwood Street, the previously unheard of laneway off George Street that the 7 Metre Bar (Grasshopper Bar's ancestor) was wedged into back in 2009. Pop ups give overlooked spaces some much needed lovin' and highlight their potential.
This is certainly true for Centennial Park although Parklands Dining, their perennial more upmarket dining venue is just a bit further down the road, The Park provides a refreshing funky alternative a sunny day just won't feel the same after it shuts down (or pops down?) in June.
But like 7 Meter Bar which morphed into the bricks and mortar Grasshopper small bar, and El Loco which expanded into the Slip Inn to the delight of city workers, I hope that The Park pops up again with the sunshine in Spring. A few springtime daffodils would go very nicely with those hay bales.
The Park is open Wednesdays to Sundays from 12pm-10pm until June 2 2013.