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February 18, 2016
Habits

First look: Croydon Social

A new idea from the people behind Red Door Bakery.

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  • Words: Farrin Foster
  • Pictures: Joshua Fanning

In opening Croydon Social – a pizza bar in the inner west – Emma and Gareth Grierson have created a time machine of sorts.

Remarks

Croydon Social
Opens Friday, February 19.
Opening Hours:
Wednesday – Friday:
11am-10pm
Saturday and Sunday:
8am-10pm

You can find it at 18 Elizabeth Street, Croydon.

The free-range children running around inside and out, and relaxed, neighbourly conversations that fill the casual dining spot have a 1950s suburban feel. But, distinctly modern improvements like the restrained decor and a sophisticated menu bring Gareth and Emma’s eatery firmly into the present day.

Locals to the area, Emma and Gareth were part of Croydon’s first wave of revitalisation when they opened Red Door Bakery at the corner of Robert and Elizabeth Streets in 2010. That business has gone from strength to strength – with outlets up and running now in Goodwood and the CBD – however, Croydon Social is an entirely new endeavour for the couple.

This venture goes back to their roots in being something dreamt up specifically to serve a neighbourhood need in Croydon.

“This was sort of the missing link of Croydon,” says Gareth. “It’s very social during the day down here but there’s nowhere for anyone to meet at night.”

This peculiar problem is something Gareth says dates back to the origins of the suburb, when the land was given over from a church under the stipulation no pubs be operated in the backstreets.

While neither a pub nor a small bar, Croydon Social more than ably fills the space of a community meeting place. A minimalist interior designed and built by Gareth and Emma features pared back white walls and wood clad bars that offer plenty of space for families all the while fostering a laid-back and inclusive atmosphere.

Croydon Social is something dreamt up specifically to serve a neighbourhood need in Croydon

The details – crockery, cutlery and furniture – have been selected with an “at home” aesthetic in mind; “There’s no wine glasses,” says Emma, “it’s a full social, casual feeling.”

The menu, too, is more a matter for hands and serviettes than complicated cutlery. Gareth – a former fine dining chef – has been fine-tuning the pizza dough, and has now achieved something that takes two days to prove but cooks to the perfect texture in the huge 1.8m diameter, Corten steel-fronted oven.

Complementary to the pizza menu is a list of shared plates, salads and substantial wood-fired main meal options.

“We didn’t want to make the pizza too complicated,” says Gareth. “Just good flavours and pretty simple.”

CityMag can easily recommend our order – a house-made pastrami to start then the sopressa pizza with a side salad of zucchini and mixed grains. To be fair, we’ll probably return to try a few more options – and the breakfast on weekends too.

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