Petersham haunt The Oxford Tavern has been given a revamp and a new food and beverage offering by owners, Odd Culture Group.

The refurbishment was officially unveiled at a launch party on Wednesday July 29, featuring music from the J.J. Geary Trio, and duo Danny Clayton and Dan Mac.

James Thorpe, CEO of Odd Culture (which has owned the Oxford Tavern since 2019), provided some context to Australian Hotelier.

“It was always part of the plan [to refurbish], and this is the first half of what we envisage for the venue,” Thorpe said.

“It’s our biggest venue in terms of footprint, it’s on a huge plot of land. Our aim here is to tidy the place up, and make the layout make a bit more sense, and then kind of grunge it up a little.”

The front bar space has been opened up, while backrooms have also been rationalised as part of the revamp. What has not changed, Thorpe says, is the essentially feel of the venue.

“It was really important to us – we own probably the last two dive pubs in Sydney. Every good city has to have a few dive pubs,” Thorpe explained.

The other venue he references is The Duke of Enmore, another pub which has been reopened by Odd Culture, while retaining its character.

“The previous fit-out was over ten years old, so yeah, we’ve ripped some of that out , but it’s been done properly again, it still retains its character. Everything’s been done deliberately, we’ve kept the old floors deliberately. We wanted it to look and feel like it has that classic Tav character.”

There are throwbacks to the venue’s origin as a strip club, with neon signs and pin-up pictures featuring on the walls, and the pub’s original ‘erotic dancers’ sign still in pride of place on the exterior.

“The master plan, which is going to have to go to council, is to knock the wall out between the beer garden and the back bar, so it feels like this big, airy space.”

Also on show at the launch party was a taste of the Oxford Tavern’s new menu, masterminded by James MacDonald, Executive Chef at Odd Culture, and venue chef John Hockey.

The American barbecue theme is out, and elevated pub classics are in, with burgers, steaks, and schnitzels on the menu. Black Betty, the large smoker found in the pub’s garden, will be retained, but will produce smoked brisket pies, smoked lamb for pappardelle ragu, and smoked chicken wings.

A refreshed drinks offering is also part of the new Tav, with Group Beverage Manager Jordan Blackman curating a menu of craft beers, natural wines, and cocktails – including a frozen rendition of the Penicillin, the ‘Penichillin’.

Despite some changes, Thorpe says, “the Tav is still the place to come for steamy late nights – but its appeal is broadening a bit.”

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