Rosie Campbells, Surry Hills

Located on the busy restaurant strip of Crown Street in Surry Hills is Rosie Campbell’s, a Jamaican rum bar that opened just a couple of months ago.

A heritage-listed building

A heritage-listed building

Situated on the corner of Campbell and Crown Streets, the rum bar appears from the outside to be a Jamaican corner store; especially as the signage says, ‘Campbell’s Corner Store’.  Purposely designed, it was nostalgic sentiment towards Jamaican corner stores that owner, British-born Graham Cordery, fell in love with when his travels took him to Jamaica.

Rosie's Corner Store

Campbell’s Corner Store

Cordery’s vision was to find the perfect ‘corner-store’ location.  Earlier this year he found that ideal location and while working with the constraints of a heritage-listed building, he renovated the building so from the outside it looks just like a Jamaican corner-store, (complete with navy and white checkered curtains in the windows), yet as soon as you step inside you feel like you’ve arrived in a Jamaican rum bar/diner.

Campbells Corner Store

Campbells Corner Store

Hotly Spiced and Crew walked into Rosie Campbell’s on a Tuesday night.  Being mid-week we were expecting the restaurant to be fairly quiet however, even though only opening in July, Rosie Campbell’s is busy.  Bob Marley tunes were pumping through the speakers and waitresses dressed in T-shirts with Jamaican head-wraps busied their way around the restaurant.

Entrance

‘Sweet Tings’ – entrance

The interior is an eclectic mix of low stools and high stools and banquettes and couches and coffee tables and long communal tables, and all at different heights and in various positions around the dining room.  There are turquoise tones on the walls with murals and sayings Cordery either read or heard repeated as he spent time in Jamaica.  We were shown to a blue-vinyl banquette with comfy seating that had timber-veneer sides and a groovy laminated table.

15.10.15.26

Mural

Mural

Our cosy corner

Our cosy corner

Interior

Interior

At a Jamaican rum bar it has to be all about the rum and so at Rosie Campbell’s there are over 30 rums available with a cocktail list where every cocktail contains rum.  So why not start with a pre-dinner drink!  Arabella ordered a Montego Bay punch with Pampero white and dark rums, Don Julio Plata Tequila, pineapple, papaya, rockmelon, sugarcane and almond.  Arabella thought the presentation of the cocktail was beautiful.  Tahlia ordered a Rosie’s Estate with appleton white rum, tanqueray gin, yellow chartreuse, watermelon, honeydew, sugarcane and psychaud bitters.  This cocktail has lighter rum flavours and is very drinkable.

Montego Bay Punch: $19.00 and Rosie's Estate: $17.00

Montego Bay Punch: $19.00 and Rosie’s Estate: $17.00

There is a Jamaican beer on the menu, Redstripe, and having never before had a Jamaican beer, Drew ordered one.  He enjoyed the beer and wondered if you can buy it anywhere else in Sydney.  I ordered a Hendricks gin and tonic with cucumber.  This was very chilled and really refreshing.

Redstripe Beer: $7.00 and a Hendricks gin and tonic

Redstripe Beer: $7.00 and a Hendricks gin and tonic

The menu is a blend between Jamaican cuisine and what’s on offer at an American diner.  Be warned, in keeping with the US diner theme, servings are very generous.  We started with a few ‘Smalls’ that are designed to share.  We ordered the Kingston (capital of Jamaica), corn fritters that were light, had great texture, plenty of sauce and they were a good way to ease into the meal.

Kingston Corn Fritters with Rosie's sweet chilli sauce and sour cream: $13.00

Kingston Corn Fritters with Rosie’s sweet chilli sauce and sour cream: $13.00

Then we ordered the Jerk Wings.  These can be ordered as a half-bucket or full bucket but whichever you order, they’re popular.  All night long I saw these coming out of the kitchen.  And with good reason; they’re excellent.  Served finger-burningly hot, they have crispy skin covered in jerk seasoning with plenty of sauce.  They came with a blue cheese dip that complimented the spicy flavours on the chicken.  If you like to take heat to an entirely new level, the wings are also served with a bowl of mango habanero dip that has plenty of kick.

Jerk Wings: 1/2 bucket of grilled chicken wings with house-made blue cheese and mango habanero dips: $13.00

Jerk Wings: 1/2 bucket of grilled chicken wings with house-made blue cheese and mango habanero dips: $13.00

The final ‘Small’ we ordered was the jerk pork dumplings that are made in-house and are covered in Rosie’s jerk sauce.  These little pillows were soft, slightly spicy, and with great texture.

Jerk Pork Dumplings - house-made with Rosie's jerk sauce, chinkiang vinegar & crispy shallots: $16.00

Jerk Pork Dumplings – house-made with Rosie’s jerk sauce, chinkiang vinegar & crispy shallots: $16.00

There is a really interesting wine list at Rosie Campbell’s and Cordery has chosen wines from countries all over the world.  We chose a bottle of Chilean red wine that was excellent and one we’d definitely order again.

A very good Chilean red

A very good Chilean red

Miss Arabella ordered a Rosie’s Coco Colada for no other reason than she liked how it’s served in a coconut and wanted to drink from a coconut shell!

Rosie's Coco Colada - Pampero dark rum infused with pimento, pineapple, coco lopez, sugarcane, lime, banana - $18.00

Rosie’s Coco Colada – Pampero dark rum infused with pimento, pineapple, coco lopez, sugarcane, lime, banana – $18.00

Drew ordered a soft shell crab burger that came with sunshine slaw and a turmeric and ginger mayo and lots of fries.  The burger was enormous but Drew stepped up to the plate and gave it a red-hot go.  He just didn’t manage to finish the fries.  He loved the burger but said if anything, there was a little too much batter on the crab.

Soft Shell Crab Burger with Rosie's sunshine slaw, tamarind sauce and turmeric and ginger mayo: $18.00

Soft Shell Crab Burger with Rosie’s sunshine slaw, tamarind sauce and turmeric and ginger mayo: $18.00

The rest of us ordered from the ‘Biggies’ section of the menu and these too, are designed to share.  The signature dish is the Grilled Jerk Chicken that normally comes with coconut ‘rice n peas’ and sunshine slaw.  As we were ordering many other dishes, we asked for the chicken to come solo.  The marinated chicken thigh fillets are well seasoned and very tender with mild heat from the jerk seasoning.

Grilled Jerk Chicken

Grilled Jerk Chicken

We also ordered the Dem Belly Full Jerk Ribs that are slow-cooked ribs coated in a house-made rub.  These came topped with crunchy pork crackle (bonus!) and with sides of fries and sunshine slaw.  The ribs were very tender, the fries were coated in jerk seasoning and the slaw was crunchy with a light, zingy dressing which is always better than a drenching.

Dem Belly Full Jerk Ribs: slow-cooked pork ribs with house-made rub with fries and sunshine slaw: $19.00

Dem Belly Full Jerk Ribs: slow-cooked pork ribs with house-made rub with fries and sunshine slaw: $19.00

Jerk Fries with Rosie's Jerk Mayo: $8.00

Jerk Fries with Rosie’s Jerk Mayo: $8.00

Sunshine Slaw

Sunshine Slaw with granny smith apple and turmeric and ginger dressing

Arabella’s friend ordered the Island Salad that was substantial with plenty of crunchy vegetables and a delightful tangy dressing.

Rock Steady Salad Bowl with grilled corn, shredded radish, sesame and pumpkin seeds, crispy spring onion, fresh erbs, served on a bed of quinoa with spicy lime dressing: $17.00

Rock Steady Salad Bowl with grilled corn, shredded radish, sesame and pumpkin seeds, crispy spring onion, fresh erbs, served on a bed of quinoa with spicy lime dressing: $17.00

I ordered a side of corn because I love corn on the cob and this corn had been boiled then cooked on the grill and served with jerk mayo, toasted coconut and a wedge of lime.  The corn was very sweet and soft and extremely tasty with the mayo and lime.

Bowl of Corn with Rosie's jerk mayo and toasted coconut, boiled then grilled: $8.00

Bowl of Corn with Rosie’s jerk mayo and toasted coconut, boiled then grilled: $8.00

Banquette seating

We didn’t leave hungry

With our over-ordering and such generous portions, we didn’t need dessert but I did want to try a Jamaican dessert.  There are just two desserts on the menu and we chose the warm caramel rum cake.  If you’re not fond of rum, the rum in this dessert isn’t overpowering but instead enhances the flavour of the cake that with caramel and nuts is delightful.  It’s a light cake that’s syrupy but the sweetness is balanced with the ice cream and cream.

Warm Caramel Rum Cake with coconut ice, cream rum caramel & whipped cream - $14.00

Warm Caramel Rum Cake with coconut ice, cream rum caramel & whipped cream – $14.00

Being a Jamaican rum bar/diner, Rosie Campbell’s is a very welcome addition to Sydney’s food scene.  It’s a groovy restaurant with exceptional atmosphere, a great holiday vibe and eclectic decor that will have you continually looking around the room.   The cocktails are on the pricey side but the food is exceptionally good value and the portions over-the-top generous by Sydney standards.

Bar

Back-lit Bar

Bar

Bar

Cafe tables

Cafe tables

Verdict:  Atmosphere, food and drinks that surprise and delight.

Buzzing on a Tuesday night

Buzzing on a Tuesday night

Rosie Campbells:  Cnr Campbell and Crown Streets (320 Crown), Surry Hills

Bar

Bar

It's a busy place

It’s a busy place

A vase of pineapples

A vase of pineapples

Caption

Jerk Diner and Rum Bar

Special

Tuesday night special

Hotly Spiced and Crew dined as guests of Rosie Campbells.

Sayings from the streets of Jamaica.

 

Comments

  1. i like your review charlie. well done. the food looks interesting and a bit different. i like the sound of that coco colada. soft shell crab burger? yum! and those fries and jerk wings – oh my it all sounds delish. you can’t tell that i am waiting for room service to turn up can you?:)

  2. What a lovely new place to hang out! I love the cosy corners, the cool interior & the foods look all very appetizing! Yum!

  3. Such a coincidence, I just got a new social media client and they make Jamaican food products, I’m so excited to have real jerk again. The food and atmosphere in this place look excellent! I thought the cocktails were a bit pricey too but they look darn good. We have a very healthy Jamaica population in Toronto and therefore have some tasty Jamaican restaurants but I haven’t come across a cool one like this, lucky you.

  4. looks like a fun night out – sadly my days for drinking rum cocktails are pretty much behind me but it is the sort of place I might just have to have one

  5. Sounds like a fun place … I’d try that soft shelled crab burger, seasoned fries and a “Dark & Stormy” especially if they use a spicy ginger beer. 🙂 And maybe some jerk wings if I was sharing with someone.

  6. This looks like a really fun place. And, as always, the food intrigues me.

  7. What a fun concept! The portions look American-sized and delicious. That would be a great place to hang out in the summer (or in the winter when you’re needing a feeling of summer). Jamaican music and rum always makes me think of summer. Very fun!

  8. This sounds like such a fun place! Really unique within what Australia offers too.

  9. What a fun place, the food looks amazing.

  10. I love the idea of s run bar. The food looks great and the cocktails really interesting. Love the decor. GG

  11. The Hungry Dad had a boy’s night here last week and raved about it! He said I would love the food. He rated the corn, too 🙂

  12. I like the way Arabella thinks—I’d totally order that cocktail in order to drink out of a coconut! Looks like a fun spot to dine 🙂

  13. I am sure I put on weight reading your restaurant reviews.
    Have a wonderful weekend Charlie.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  14. The food looks good but the tables look very tightly spaced! I think the booths look very comfortable though!

  15. Red Stripe is the bomb! I’ve had way too much of that while sitting on the beach in Negril. 🙂 and I don’t drink (well not much anyway).

    I’m with Arabella on the drink. Full jerk ribs for me!

  16. Looks like delicious fun Charlie. Wishing you a super weekend!

  17. This sounds like the place to go. The food looks tasty and those are good size portions. I think we need a rum bar here.

  18. What a fun place! I would go for the food and the cocktails as I am not a big fan of straight rum.

  19. What a great review and you’re right, the portions did seem large. Especially Drew’s burger! Everything looked delicious. I think I would have hoped for a tasting tray of all the different rums. I love rum!

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