After hearing so many mixed reviews about Mary's, a bar in Newtown; I finally decided to make the trip and see if they were worth all the hype. The reviews I'd heard about Mary's were quite mixed, ranging from 'the best burgers in Sydney', to 'overrated' and as one of my friends put it, “a really nice version of a McDonald's burger.”
View of Mary's from upstairs seating
Located on 6 Mary Street in the heart of Newtown, Mary's is just off King Street and very close to Newtown station. Despite the lack of signs, we found the bar relatively easily and went in. The entrance was pretty much just a doorway leading from Mary Street into the bar, with no sign whatsoever.
Entrance of Mary's from Mary Street
We arrived at around 4:30pm on a Thursday afternoon, half an hour after opening time, and saw that there were quite a few other people in the bar already. I walked to the bar area, situated to the left of the entrance, and was greeted by some members of staff. One of the bar staff told me that the kitchen wouldn't open for another five minutes, so I decided to order a drink first.
My drink of choice was a Bloody Mary ($18). As I ordered it, the bartender serving me asked if I was a vegetarian, to which I answered no. It struck me as an unusual question to ask, but I soon saw why. In addition to its usual ingredients, the Bloody Mary was garnished with a slice of Kraft cheese that was lightly seared with a blow torch, a green olive, together with a piece of bacon. It was an interesting and original take on a classic cocktail.
Bloody Mary with a modern twist
After waiting a few minutes, we ordered our food and paid at the bar, then took a seat upstairs. The ambience was dimly lit with a wooden exterior. The menu was written on a wall downstairs opposite the bar, and also in a corner upstairs. The menu was pretty basic, consisting of a choice between three burgers; the Mary's burger ($14), the Shroom burger ($12), and the Cheeseburger ($14). All burgers are served with fries on the side. Also available was fried chicken in three sizes, including the Half Bird ($14), the Whole Bird ($28) or the Larry Bird ($40). After we'd taken a seat upstairs, two members of the staff came individually to our table to take orders, however I didn't previously know that they did table service. In comparison to most establishments in Sydney, the food at Mary's isn't served too quickly. I estimated that we waited about over 25 minutes for our food to arrive. We'd ordered the Half Bird, the Mary's Burger, and Mash with Gravy ($5) to share between us.
When our food arrived, everything was served in black, plastic baskets with a piece of thin paper in between the food and the basket.
Mary's burger unwrapped
Mary's burger as it was served
The burger was wrapped up in it too. Unwrapping the paper revealed a somewhat messy burger (the Mary's special sauce was smeared all over the paper) on a soft bread bun with lettuce and tomato. The messy appearance was made up for by the sensational taste though. All the elements of the burger were quite soft, including the bread and beef patty. The beef tasted like it was of a good quality, and was full of flavour, accentuated well by the Mary's special sauce.
Mash with Gravy
The special sauce was of an orangey colour; tangy and mildly spicy. In my opinion, the Mary's burger wasn't overrated at all. It's not gourmet, but nor is it quite fast food either. It's just a really good burger. Even possibly the best burgers in Sydney. The chips were also a nice side addition. They were thin and seasoned lightly with salt. The chips tasted very similar to McDonald's fries, but it wasn't a bad thing. We enjoyed dipping them in the mash with gravy. The mash was creamy, but not too smooth. It contained some small lumps of potato, and a rich gravy sauce.
The Half Chicken was still steaming hot when it arrived at the table. The chicken skin was spicy, crisp and flavoursome. It had been fried to perfection, and the insides were still tender and juicy. In fact, it was so succulent that I had a river of chicken juice running down the inside of my arm as I ate it, but I didn't care. It was certainly one of the best pieces of fried chicken I've ever had the opportunity to eat.
Overall, I really enjoyed the casual dining experience at Mary's. The bar had a chilled atmosphere with super friendly staff. Although not the quickest meal, the bar has a nice ambience that makes you feel comfortable straight away, and it's a great place to enjoy drinks.
Where: 6 Mary Street Newtown NSW
Why: American style burgers and fried chicken
Cost: Burgers start at $12, and chicken from $14.
When: Open from 4pm until late Monday to Friday, and 12pm until late Saturday and Sunday.