The intersection of Glebe and Annandale, at the Northern End of the Harold Park development is where Sydneysiders will find that the historic 1904 Rozelle Tram Depot has been gutted, restored, and turned into an impressively slick European-style dining hall. It’s part of a huge redevelopment of the area by Mirvac, and one of the most anticipated elements of the ‘new’ Sydney this year; it’s finally ready to be unveiled to the public from tomorrow, Thursday 22nd September.
There’s a Supamart taking up a large space inside but aside from that Tramsheds doesn’t look like or function as your typical retail centre. Rather, this is a dedicated dining destination, one which has been impressively shaped so many of these food and drink tenants can fit side-by-side, creating a spectacular theatrical, culturally diverse scene that is unlike anything Sydney has seen before. Earlier this week, at a small media showcase ahead of the big opening, many described the place as the “Carriageworks of dining”, and while Tramsheds doesn’t quite have the enormity of the Eveleigh arts hub, such a description is hard to argue against.
Though this writer made the foolish decision to take the leafy neighbourhood walk straight down Ross Street only to be blocked by the nearby residential development, the easiest way to scoot on over to Tramsheds from the city for now seems to be either a Light Rail to Jubilee Park or the 433 from Railway Square. There’s also a modest parking lot directly in front of the Tramsheds entrance and a larger space for parking up a nearby ramp. However one gets there, it’s clear that this is a spot fully deserving of the hype and the traffic, justified by the superstar restaurant line-up that will keep the steady stream of locals and visitors constant.
A Sydney R1 Tramcar sits at the entrance with a fresh coat, making Tramsheds look more like a museum than anything else, before you head down a ramp into that foodie wonderland. It’s a nod to the venue’s past, seeing as the tram once operated from Rozelle Tram Depot from November of 1951 right up until the depot’s closure seven years later. According to a placard that sits at the head of the tram, it was the last of four to operate in a procession from Le Perouse to Randwick Workshops on Saturday 25th February 1961, making it the last tram to officially operate on Sydney’s streets during that era.
The restored tram is an impressive sight and pops the entrance with colour before you zip straight down to the likes of Bodega 1904 – a new venture from the ultra-reliable team behind Porteño and Bodega with a gorgeous dining room and adjoining open bar area illustrated by attractive blue leather seats – and Fish and Co, the go-to for seafood with a dedication to sourcing only wild-caught seafood from locals with sustainable practices (also take-away tubs of house-made fish pate and jars of pickled Tasmanian octopus).
Those mentioned above wouldn’t be the first businesses you walk past though. Out front of the venue, in prime position, are the likes of dessert overlords Gelato Messina, specialty coffee bar Garçon (who are working with the excellent Little Marionette coffee, with night-time espresso martinis on the menu), and Jared Ingersoll’s The Butcher & The Farmer, a swish all-in-one venue that boasts a restaurant, bar, on-site butchery, and private dining room with a focus on quality local meats showcased in simple, rustic dishes – when you get the chance you have to try the Hot Smoked Hay Valley Lamb with fresh bay sauce.
Egyptian street food has a champion with Bekya (also open at Circular Quay’s The Gateway), offering biodynamic wines to wash down love-made dishes like the Koshari, a bowl of lentils, rice, and macaroni topped with spicy tomato salsa and garnished with chickpeas and fried onions. It’s a ubiquitous carb-loading street favourite over in Egypt, with nods to the cuisine’s Italian and British influences. The restaurant is part of a large cultural scope at Tramsheds, which also includes Vietnamese (Mama’s Buoi – opening in the coming months) and the essential Osaka Trading Co, a bar and eatery from the same team behind stylish Japanese small bar Tokyo Bird. Former Bar H chef Shota Sato runs an all-star kitchen team here, offering dishes like the mind-blowing Grilled Hokkaido Scallop served in it’s shell, swimming in a tasty sweet soy butter with leek and chilli – a clear favourite on the media preview night, particularly when paired with cocktail Gin-Zu (a simple layering of Jinzu Gin, yuzu, Countreau, honey, and crushed ice).
Close by is Dust, an exciting artisan bakery led by third-gen baker Cesare Salemi and powered with a giant woodfired oven as well as one of Sydney’s only on-site stone mills, which has been handmade in Austria and imported especially to help Salemi showcase beautiful breads to visitors. Cakes and pastries will appear here daily along with breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, all of which should showcase the benefits of stone-ground flour and whole grains sourced from local farms. Make no mistake about it, if the bread at the media preview was anything to go by, this may very well be Tramshed’s MVP.
Next door one would find the precinct’s craft beer oasis, Sir Chapel Bistro & Brewery who have an on-site copper brewhouse that will be pumping out their own craft beer along with Australian favourites and a bistro menu.
Should you wonder about the curious central strip of leafy, wooden tables with its own open kitchen between the restaurants, that would be Artisan Lane, an adaptable space for regular market stalls, activities, and pop up restaurateurs.
Also at the forefront of Tramshed’s highlights is Flour Eggs Water, a modern Italian restaurant from A Tavola, all about demonstrating the art of fresh hand-made pasta along with quality organic wines on tap from Italian and local growers. Sip a Mudgee rosé with a beautiful, deliciously chewy scamorza filled pasta resting lightly in butter with sage, roasted cherry tomatoes, basil, and smoked eggplant puree.
The fried chicken wizardry of Morgan McGlone will add to the star-power of Tramsheds come October 10th when Belles Hot Chicken (one of two permanent restaurants for the brand – the other being at Barangaroo) opens, offering their famous menu with Fried Chicken Sandwiches and natural wines.
Between all this, Tramsheds fit in a whole foods shop, gym, nail bar, barber, medical centre, cellar, and the aforementioned Supamart, completing the picture for this exciting new precinct and offering locals something the area has needed for a very long time.
For a handy transport guide on how to get to Tramsheds click HERE.
Note: all food images are preview dishes, hence may be smaller than usual servings.
Address: 1 Dalgal Way, Forest Lodge, NSW 2037
Hours: Daily 7am-late