A 19th Century rail warehouse… it’s the grittiest industrial setting for a bar you can imagine. Think heritage brickwork, chunky, rusty steel, 10 tonne gantry cranes and towering ceilings. Here, they sprout with life thanks to gorgeous greenery and soulful upcycling.
Cornerstone Bar & Food is within what was the 1880’s-built Eveleigh railyards and blacksmiths workshops, and is now Carriageworks – a large multi-arts centre that is renowned for pushing creative boundaries and celebrating social and cultural diversity.
Train carriages were built from scratch in here, and as you walk through the large warehouses – now performance venues – you can just imagine the greasy, sweaty workhouse that it once was. This was the scene of a thriving industry, indicative of a city in progress. It’s quite the experience wandering through these giants, and even if Carriageworks’ artistic and historic drawcards don’t float your boat, Cornerstone is SO worth the visit.
I have to say, this MUST have presented at first as a bit of a doozy for architects and designers Humphrey and Edwards. Firstly, pretty much the entire shell and much of the framework of the warehouse is heritage listed and had to be left exactly as it was. Hmmm. Secondly, the bar only takes up a teensy corner in the north-east of this seriously cavernous space – tricky to create an inviting ambience with soul, no? Thirdly, this little bar really had to be a people-magnet in its own right, since it’s located deep within the centre and has no passing traffic to show off its handsome wares, other than those coming to Carriageworks for an event. Sheesh! Tough gig!
Fortunately, we can all breathe a sigh of relief and relax into one of the Chesterfields. H&E nailed the transformation with the most effective use of one of the pillars of great design: layering. It’s all here: The warmth of the recycled woodwork. The freshness of the greenery. The charm of the vintage lamps. The texture of the leather Chesterfields. Gently fold them together and voila : it JUST WORKS!
“The furnishings incorporate an eclectic mix of semi industrial inspired custom crafted pieces, familiar antiques and recyclables fashioned into various items,” says H&E. It is “warm but robust incorporating recycled timbers, distressed finishes, worn mild steel, pressed metal, aged leathers… all complimentary to its harsher industrial heritage but warmer to embrace at a human level.”
Two ‘planet planters’ – huge disco balls sprouting with greenery – are masterstrokes in connecting the bar at ground level with the spectacular size of the structure in which it sits, as they “encourage a visual connection to the original elements of the building above”, including those spectacular 10 tonne gantry cranes, resplendent in weathered yellow.
One of the most engaging aspects of this venue is the beer garden. (SORRY, I just have to interrupt my ramblings here with a side note. I loathe the term “beer garden”. It just doesn’t do the whole concept of enjoying fresh air, food and friends justice. It sounds so bloody boring, one-dimensional and let’s be frank, blokey. I’m going to call it a Social Garden.)
Ahem. ANYWAY, the Social Garden is surrounded by carpark, warehouses, concrete and decommissioned tracks, and every minute or so a train rattles past on the nearby railway. It’s not exactly Central Park. BUT, the chunky concrete planter boxes are positively thriving with a mixture of herbs, succulents, climbers and hardy plants. Add a few fairy lights and delicate iron outdoor furniture and timber pieces, and this is actually a really enchanting, almost whimsical spot in amongst this rugged and hard landscape. It’s BEAUTIFUL!
COCKTAILS & CUISINE
Craft beer goes level up here with a great selection of local brews with wacky names. The cocktail list is fascinating, with a focus on quality, not quantity. There’s no wasting 20 minutes browsing pages of options here. It’s straight to business. Perhaps the Scorcese for a spicy soother? Or the Life Aquatic for refreshing. Can’t go wrong.
Hold the phone, this food is really reasonably priced, which means there’s no reason not to try a hefty array of the tasty share plates, like seared haloumi and asparagus, or the big plates, like slow-cooked lamb. Mmmm. Cancel my afternoon appointments.
GO HERE IF
There’s something for everyone here: garden design, industrial aesthetic, historical influence, vintage décor, yummy share plates and cocktails! If you’re into any of that, this is a must see.
SIX WORD SUMMARY
Soulful, refreshing interpretation of industrial icon.
Share plates from $6, large plates from $14. Cocktails start at $16