Changing Face of Surry Hills

“It’s all very Melbourne”, I said to my friend Colin as we sat in a bar in Surry Hills tonight.

In the last two or three months, for whatever reason, a range of new bars and restaurants has opened on Surry Hills.

In addition to my local favourite, Yulli’s (mentioned previously), there’s Mille Vini, and Monkey Magic and a new “gourmet” grocery store at the corner of Crown and Fitzroy Streets. With the exception of Yulli’s Colin and I visited all three tonight.

Mille Vini is very, very good. With bars upstairs and downstairs, it feels smaller than it actually is.

We sat upstairs at the bar and enjoyed a couple of glasses of French red, and ate a couple of cold meat tapas dishes. The wine was EXCELLENT and the food was very good. The service was great. And overall, we had a very pleasant hour or so enjoying the surroundings.

The crowd was young and groovy without being overly pretentious, though if you had to define them, I’d say “thirty something singles and thirty something couples without kids”.

From there we wandered down to the new grocery store. I’m sorry, I can’t remember the name of it.

We used to have a great “grocery store” in Surry Hills. Well, corner shop is probably more accurate. But we used to have, and I used to love the Bourke Street Pantry, run by Matt and Katherine (before they embarked on their big around the world journey). They were such a lovely couple and it was always great going there to big up a bit of “gourmet meal” for dinner. Sadly, there’s been nothing like it, since it closed maybe seven or eight years ago.

But I got a really nice vibe as we wandered into the new grocery store tonight. The staff were also friendly and warm. “How long have you been here for?”, I asked, which was greeted with a smile and the answer “three weeks”.

The store has lots of “the gourmet”, including some wonderful large rounds of cheese beautifully displayed.

And then we wandered over to Monkey Magic which, presumably, was named after the television show and book series of the same name. Or maybe not?

There we enjoyed another glass of wine and a couple of small dishes, including a very tasty beetel leaf crab dish.

As we chatted, we both observed how much Surry Hills has changed in a short period of time. We also both welcomed the new shops opening.

There’s obviously a downside to “gentrification”, as people on lower incomes are sometimes forced out as rents increase.

But the one thing I love about this area is that for as long as I’ve lived here, the area has continued to be a bit of a melting pot of cultures, incomes, sexualities and lifestyles. I hope it stays that way.

P.S. This was my 1000th post…. I started this blog as “travel postcard” when I went to live and work in Darwin in April/May 2002. The first post was entitled “New Life” in recognition I was starting on a new adventure, both in terms of my work (moving into management), and in my personal life (I was newly single…).

Sometimes it’s been crap that I look back and laugh about now. Other times it’s been well-considerd, thoughtful stuff.

Sometimes it’s been weeks between updates. And since half way through last year it’s been a daily diary of sorts. I really love having this record of my thoughts and feelings. And I’m amazed that I’ve been able to stick with it.

Anyway, happy 1000th post to me…

Surry Hills Cheese
Surry Hills Cheese