Welcome to Sydney Institutions, where we take a look at some of the long-standing venues serving as the beating heart fueling this city’s social landscape. First off, we take a look at a Mosman institution; a pub that has been standing since 1990, given a recent makeover with new owners an new management while still maintaining and honouring its position as the area’s hub of activity.
Lower North Shore institution The Buena is now just over a year on from its extensive and substantial $8 million renovation, revealed towards the end of last year. Sparked by new owners and Public House Management Group, in 2016 the beloved Mosman venue received a meticulous makeover, calling upon the combined talents of SJB Interiors and Tess Regan Designs for an incredibly detailed and modern reinterpretation of the venue’s long and celebrated history, which dates back to 1990.
It’s one of the best examples of a pub refurbishment done right in Sydney, bringing the venue closer to Mosman’s ritzy aesthetic with smart use of premium features like marble bench tops, pressed leather booths and a particular love of brass detailing, which can be found throughout the venue’s three distinct spaces: The Buena itself – still one of the area’s most charming and intimate pubs – high-profile restaurant Bistro Moncur (the Lower North Shore iteration of the famous Woollahra restaurant by Guillaume Brahimi), and the sun-soaked, group-friendly Vista Bar.
The Vista Bar and The Buena Bar are of particular interest here. Yes, those looking for a fine French bistro are well taken care of with Bistro Moncur, but the decision to ground the venue’s other two spaces with a blend or traditional and modern pub fare, stepped up with offerings like the “create your own” salad menu, barramundi tacos, Sydney rock oysters and a long list of top-quality pizzas cooked in a wood-fire pizza oven imported from Italy, has proven a wise choice. The kitchen now pumps out hearty gastro-pub fare like Beef Short Rib with apple chilli glaze and cauliflower puree; Miso Salmon with soba noodle, pickled vegetables and mizuna; and share-friendly mains like whole Saskia Beer chicken with “proper gravy” or the enormous 1KG T-Bone Cape Grim. You’ve still got the classics like chicken schnittys, burgers and hot wings, but having this kind of far-reaching variety has most certainly taken the classic pub’s dining scene to new heights.
The Vista Bar, with it’s glass roof and comfortable layout, is a seat for The Buena’s dynamic local culture which has been cultivated through a smart schedule of local-friendly events. The most popular so far – and this comes as no surprise – has been the weekly “Vista Fiesta” which is held every Thursday, defined by $4 tacos, cheap coronas and margaritas, and live music. Downstairs also has an ongoing program, from the Buena Trivia Series on Tuesdays and the Badge Draw on Wednesdays, to the Friday Meat Raffle and a huge nod to the Espresso Martini-loving crowd on Saturdays, when the cocktail is offered for $10 from 7pm-9pm (a pro-choice seeing as the inventive cocktail list, put together by PMHG cocktail guru Kurtis Bosley, features a Salted Caramel Espresso Martini). And in case you were wondering, Happy Hour is 5pm-6pm each and every weekday.
Though becoming a hub of local culture and offering top-quality food isn’t enough for a Mosman pub, which really isn’t complete without a well-rounded wine list. Last month it was confirmed that the famously leafy North Shore suburb was at the very top when it came to a particular love of top-shelf bubbles. Mosman was named as the suburb which purchases the most Champagne out of any area in Australia; hardly a surprise, but an important distinction for The Buena, which as Mosman’s heart features a wide range of quality Champagne on its menu, including all the big names like Veuve Clicquot, Möet & Chandon and Billecart Salmon.
Not just one of the North Shore’s most essential pubs, The Buena is now positioned as one of the area’s most exciting. And it’s clear that the owners are far from done in making this local completely dedicated to the community and its visitors, of all ages. In fact, their New Year’s Eve party this year will be one of the city’s most family friendly, where they’ll be hosting a “Kids NYE” with best dressed prizes, games and a disco. This is in addition to a series of holiday events (completely with Santa photos and the Vista Bar transforming into the “North Pole) and a “Stella Under the Stars” series, where a special light installation will be set up at the bar between December and February.