THE CROSS | A Decade of Stories from an Iconic Sydney location
THE UPSIDE: working in Kings Cross has been a blast: rich, colourful, thriving, convenient, changing and never dull. You can always find a great coffee and a great meal, a hairdresser, yoga class, smoothie, chemist, boot-maker, dry cleaner, beautician, gift for your mum or best friend, a bunch of flowers, a doctor, a book, a card, a massage, a secondhand thrift shop bargain or the sequined hot pants you need for that fancy dress party and, the much-loved and sometimes-needed, after work drink.
THE DOWNSIDE: sometimes colourful means crazy.
Many years ago when I was growing up I remember reading a book that was set in a Kings Cross bursting with rock’n’roll and a lively scene during the 1960s. It was an autobiography by Billy Thorpe, aptly titled Sex, Thugs and Rock’n’Roll: Some People I Know (think that I’m crazy). About ten years after reading that book, which I recall being full of wild stories, I ended up working for a production company whose offices were in The Cross, in a gorgeous old art deco theatre, The Metro, now affectionately known to me. So on the eve of leaving those same offices after a decade of trawling these streets and practically calling them home, I thought I’d write a post about my time in the area and some of my favourite places to grab a bite to eat or have a drink – or get your legs waxed! You can still find most things here, even with the changing of laws and the inevitable gentrification.
I’ve being working on the border of Kings Cross and Potts Point, and for me the two are inseparable, so inevitably the places mentioned will span both suburbs. A good mix of the slightly grungy and the more cosmopolitan. Therein lies the charm….
I’m not sure if you can have two favourites, by definition it’s probably not allowed. However, my two favourite places to get coffee are Coffee, Tea & Me and Room 10. In fact, they’re my go-to cafes for coffee and food. The bagels at Coffee, Tea & Me are the best around and are the perfect fix in the morning when you need something hearty (and a bit naughty), or for a quick lunch. And Room 10 do some of the best sandwiches and salads in the area; the ocean trout always hard to go by for me, and their smashed avo with feta hits the spot every time.
Before Room 10 and Coffee, Tea & Me, I used to eat a lot at Uliveto, on Baystwater Road and I went there recently and it hasn’t changed. Still excellent, and it has one of the nicest courtyard seating areas in the neighbourhood.
There are a lot more options now than ten years ago. Bourke St Bakery, The Fish Shop, Fratelli Fresh and The Farm are just a few of the other great eateries.
My other lunch spot haunts have been Bushari, a bustling, dark, quiet Japanese restaurant with daily specials and Bottega del Vino; a wonderful deli with fresh salads, sandwiches and THE best winter soups served with delicious sourdough. They also have a great wine selection, cheeses, chocolates are other specialties. The staff at all these places are really lovely, too. In fact, it’s the people I will miss. Local business owners and the staff all feel like part of a community here. It’s a real village in that way.
Dull days can be brightened up by an exchange with one of the local staff or by a walk around the area, admiring some of the facades on the apartment buildings or dappled light falling on tiny streets and alleyways. And then there's always the gentle strum of a guitar coming from the nearby backpackers.
After work drinks can be satiated by LL Wine Bar, a discreet little spot in Llankelly Place, The Roosevelt, Monopole, Chester White and Jangling Jacks. One also can’t ignore the old classic, The Bourbon, though I’m not sure she’ll be around for much longer – as the next wave of changes are due for The Cross. More development, less entertainment. The Gazebo wine bar is another good one as well.
These days, you’re spoilt for choice with restaurants, too. Since The Apollo opened its doors, others have followed and some of the already established places have revamped. Personally, I like Ms. G’s for something vibey and Monopole for something ambient and quiet. Of course, Billy Kwong, Cho Cho San, Yellow and Fratelli (Fresh and Paradiso) all deserve a mention.
Yoga Village has been a great place for me to seek refuge from the working day, squeezing in the occasional lunchtime yoga class and many people close to me have had gifts from The Little Candle Shop and Macleay on Manning. Not to mention flowers from Poho.
For catering, the wonderful Karen at Sides & Main has looked after many work events for me, and recently even catered a family wedding. I couldn’t recommend her highly enough. Really fresh, delicious food and she is a delight to work with.
It’s been quite useful to have a boutique shoe shop on the corner, too – sometimes after a tough day retail therapy really does do the trick just nicely! Booty have a great, unique selection and again, the staff are terrific.
This post wouldn’t be complete without a shout out also to Adora Healthy Living, Beauty Odyssey, Mon Petit Chou, Becker Minty, the Farmers Markets, The Wayside Chapel, the little sandwich shop, the best Thai joint around, Pad Thai Chai Yo, and hairdresser extraordinaire, Millie, at M16.
There’s certainly no shortage of businesses and services in the area – and things are changing all the time.
Thank you, Kings Cross, for being such a vibrant place to work. I’ve shown up fresh as a daisy at times and tired as all hell at others. In love, despondent, anxious, hopeful, heartbroken and healed. A decade of memories I’ll take with me. Perhaps not quite as outrageous as those shared by Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, though I have carved up a few dance floors around here over the years.