"Sandy feet, bikinis and board shorts welcome"

Sandy feet, bikinis and board shorts welcome” declares the elegant script at the entrance to Manly Wine, the latest and most scenic addition to the Gazebo family.

The eclectic, arty and intentionally chaotic décor that Gazebo is known for stimulates the senses, with yellow roses jostling for space with plastic flamingos and mini television sets. The friendly staff in denim overalls, the massive bread baskets delivered to the tables upon being seated and the mismatched but comfortable chairs reinforce the message of ‘casual but quality’.

Despite the welcoming statement at the door, the crowd gathered for long Saturday lunches would look equally comfortable at an expensive restaurant or afternoon bar launch. A look-book of the latest winter fashions, there are girls touching up make up in the bathroom, strutting heels in the mid-afternoon, and no sign of sandy feet or boardshorts (though to be fair – it is mid-winter).

Ask any non-Sydney resident their impression of Sydney nightlife and culture, and you’ll often get a response along the lines of “pretentious, expensive, tacky…” (with particular emphasis from smug Melbournites).

Gazebo’s welcoming invitation, along with statements such as “We say no to… Door charges. Dress codes. Door bitches” at Pocket in Darlinghurst seem to be part of a growing trend in Sydney to reject the pretentious, the over-dressed and exclusivity that Sydney has long been renowned for. Small Bar’s proud admission that “we’re homely and intimate, and we don’t have tv screens, gambling or draught beer” is another example of ambiance without the fuss. In a funny twist, the smaller the budget, the harder to find and the quirkier the décor of a place, the more likely it is to be frequented by those it claims to exclude.

Challenging the dominance of establishments like Ivy , a pleasure palace planned and built during boom times but ironically opened at the same time as the advent of the Global Financial Crisis, the anti-cool, anti-establishment, anti-rules vibe is starting to dominate Sydney’s bars and restaurants, kicked off by the small bars spreading over the inner city since the change to the liquor licensing laws in October 2009. Larger bars like the Gazebos and The Village (formally known as East Village) are reinforcing the trend by creating small bar-esque, familiar and cozy environments within their larger venues.

With hidden bars like Sticky hosting old school gaming machines, table tennis at Dr Pong, and drinking wine on crates on the pavement outside The Shop and Wine Bar in Bondi, the focus is on fun, art and experience – with a serious disdain for those who take life too seriously.

The plastic pink flamingo has the best view in the house

Manly Wine on Urbanspoon


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