In Short: SILY (Since I Left You) Sydney is the spot if you’re up for a quick bite at lunch, or in for long and lazy drinks with friends, SILY is one of the more unique, yet relaxed small bars in the city. Come for the promise of a chilled out vibe, stay for the awesome toasties, drinks, and poke bowls.
We’ve been spending a lot of time in Melbourne lately, and what always strikes me about in being our indisputable cultural mecca is the abundance of street art. Large, sky-high murals painted on the side of buildings, or across a wall in a back alleyway, there is never a shortage of an homage to public art appreciation. So, when we walked into the bar at Sydney’s SILY (Since I Left You), I was immediately mesmerised by the Scottie Marsh mural that adorned the wall. Yes, the same Scottie Marsh of the now infamous ‘Tony Loves Tony’ mural and the ‘Saint George Tribute Piece’, so you can see why I was transfixed!
Just as these walls have had a transformation, owner Nick White has also breathed new life into the reinvigorated SILY, keeping it contemporary, but honouring the location’s art deco history. Looking up, the gorgeous art deco inspired chandeliers bounce tungsten light onto a silver-gilded ceiling with black trim. The walls have been exposed, and the natural light from the street bounces off the burgundy concrete polished floors. Its sophisticated, yet somehow completely casual and accessible. You would feel as comfortable in here in your sneakers, as you would in a full business suit.
As we take our seats by the window, us in our sneakers, surrounded by a young business crowd, Nick drops by to say hello and talk about the recent changes to SILY, including new lunch-time hours that have been a hit, attracting a new crowd in the after-work drinks crew. Step outside and into the courtyard, and hanging fairy lights with greenery, bar stools and tables come alive at night with a massive sky high mural continuing the theme from inside the small bar. You’ve got to spend a lazy summer evening enjoying this space!
It was lunch on a hot Wednesday afternoon, and three quarters of the Coco and Vine team were on hand, and starving! Nick wasted no time dashing off to the kitchen to bring us a range of SILY specialties. And, were we in for a treat!
Poke (pronounced poh-kay in case you were wondering!) bowls are the foodie trend du jour, and SILY’s take does not disappoint. You can customise your own, or be like us, and let Nick guide you to his personal favourite, the Spicy Tuna. Seasoned white sushi rice is generously topped with chunks of fresh, red tuna, edamame, shallots, spring onion, enoki mushrooms, cucumber and carrot. But it’s the 1-2 punch from the chilli Shoyu dressing with Sriracha dressing, that adds the perfect amount of heat to this refreshing, substantial lunch time meal.
Another Poke that you should try from SILY is their Poke Thai Style comprises of rice, salmon, bean sprouts, edamame, shallots, spring onion, green papaya, carrot, cucumber, coriander, mint, roasted peanuts, all tossed together with mouth-watering Thai style dressing. With that many ingredients in a bowl, you can’t possibly go wrong. This bowl is all about textures. With each mouthful, you get the crunchiness from peanuts and edamame, while the shallots, spring onion, coriander and mint provides a herbaceous flavor to the dish. The cucumbers balances and contracts nicely with the clean fresh flavours of the salmon. All-in-all this is one bowl of food with a fusion asian twist, that is not just good for you but actually tastes yum as well.
Now, I don’t know about you, but toasties are totally my comfort food. They remind me just as much of lazy, rainy days spent in front of the TV, as they do of my late night (or, ahem, wee early hours!) snack after a full night of partying! SILY has totally got this right to include toasties as a staple of their menu to accompany their awesome cocktails list.
Who wouldn’t demolish these after a few cheeky rounds?! Unfortunately, no cheeky rounds for us on this day,we’re on the job, but equally as delicious, we tried the Cheeseburger Toastie, that is essentially a sophisticated take on a quarter pounder. What’s not to love, when you combine a ground beef patty with caramelised onions, and oh-so-divine Le Superbe Swiss Gruyere cheese. Add a touch of ketchup, mustard and cornichons, and thanks, I’ll have 2 more please!
Not to be outdone, the SILY Smoked Reuben Toastie is no second fiddle to the cheeseburger. Generous helpings of smoked wagyu, are perfectly paired with sauerkraut, Russian dressing, and Le Superbe Swiss Gruyere. Steve, Sacha and I were definitely fighting over the last finger of the 4-finger stack!
Now when you see Waffalafels on the menu, you could be forgiven thinking that you were reading from a Dr. Seuss book “…I can waffalafel, can you?…”, but essentially these are falafels cooked in a waffle iron. They are light and crispy, with all the familiar flavours of regular falafels, but far easier to eat and perfect for dipping in the accompanying tangy, lemon tahini sauce.
With all that food goodness, we had to wash it down with some of the SILY Housemade Lemonade. Fresh and sweet, with sprigs of mint, this refreshed the palate between tastings. In the evening, this also comes with your favourite alcoholic shot, and I’m totally coming back to try this with some of my favourite gin!
UPDATE June 21, 2019
SILY continues to redefine and push the toastie movement with a twist on an American classic. The Bacon Mac N Cheese Toastie had us salivating. Macaroni pasta is cooked with bacon, chives and gruyere cheese, then sandwiched between 2 deliciously light pieces of break to create the ultimate Bacon Mac N Cheese toastie. The filling is not overpowering in cheese flavours yet still creamy, rich and silky with subtle flavours of bacon. The choice of bread plays an important role as it is crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside, while at the same time being hold its form. The Bacon Mac N Cheese toastie also comes with a side of maple syrup, which is a tiny bit addictive. Look out for the winged bits of the toastie. It is created by the cheese that has oozed out on the and ends up being toasted till crispy and brown. It is the the best part of the sandwich and it had us fighting over who gets it.
SILY has recently launched its daily lunch special in a throwback to those tuckshop favourites. Every day the lunch special item varies, but its their Friday Daily Specials what is becoming the talk of the town. Every Friday is Schnitty Sangas day at SILY.
Parmesan-crumbed schnitzel cooked to perfection, crispy on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside. It is paired with the home made garlic aioli sauce and baby spinach leaves to balance the richness, and the Schinitty is served in between 2 slices of Turkish bread. This is a Middle Eastern meets Aussie classic combination and you know its good when men flock into the bar in their full work suit and dive into the chicken schnitzel sanga, getting their fingers dirty(in the yummiest kind of way) while relishing and devouring it without a care in the world, well just for that moment anyway.
What do you get when you cross Buffalo Wings with waffles ? SILY’s Buffalo Chicken Waffles of course ! It’s a continuing theme of adapting new flavours into waffles which started off with the Waffalafels. All the goodness and flavours of buffalo wings, minus the messy sauce dripping from your fingers. The best part is, you get all the same tangy, chilly, spicy buffalo wings flavours , all nicely merged with a soft light waffle batter. It is so good, you could eat it on its own. But if you dipped it in the blue cheese sauce you can get an extra level of comfort. I was worried that being a blue cheese sauce, it would be strong and pungent but I was surprised by how well the initial sharp spicy flavours of the buffalo wings waffles is mellowed out by the rich, creamy, blue cheese sauce. Another great waffle invention!
SILY was an early entrant to the small bar scene here in Sydney, but its certainly here to stay. Come for the drinks, but stay for the atmosphere…and of course, the toasties! We definitely will be back when the fairy lights turn on and we can enjoy the entertainment in the courtyard.
*Coco and Vine dined as guests of SILY, but opinions are our own.