Howard’s Cantina & Cocktail Bar launches at the top floor of Erskineville’s Rose of Australia Hotel

Howard’s Cantina & Cocktail Bar launches at the top floor of Erskineville’s Rose of Australia Hotel on Sunday 30 April 2017.


The Rose of Australia hotel was purchased 21 years ago by Howard Leach, a greens keeper, who was well known in the local community.  After he passed away, his son, Scott Leach, took over the hotel, and after a huge refurbishment, opened an upstairs restaurant and bar and named it Howard’s Cantina & Cocktail Bar, in honour of his father, Howard.


The top floor has been renovated with quirky décor that gives it a very rustic feel. It includes exposed brick, picnic tables in the bar area, chandeliers, artwork, a fireplace, Shakespearean classics and lots of fresh flower arrangements (playing homage to his father, the green keeper). Howard’s Cantina & Cocktail Bar has a neon red sign saying, ‘I want to be an artist too’.


Chris Bell is the head chef, who has included a number of shared dishes, sides, substantial mains and desserts on the menu. The dishes are adventurous, including: white wine poached lobster tail ‘butty’ with avruga caviar and iceberg lettuce, or a whole whey braised lamb shoulder. Sides included cauliflower, crisp anchovies, peanut and pickled turnip, smoked pumpkin wedges, whipped garlic and mash our way. Desserts were also different including one called the ‘David and Margaret Show’ featuring coca cola sorbet and buttered popcorn. I am a dessert person and I was very impressed with the mother-in-law gluten free orange cake with pine nuts and aniseed. It was so light and moist. The food menu will be available from Thursday 11 May 2017.


The menu was definitely not your typical pub food. It was more like a fine dining restaurant and I would not be surprised if it picks up some awards. The Rose of Australia (and their chef Chris Bell) was a finalist in the AHA Awards for best pub burger in 2014.


The cocktail menu will be available from Thursday 4 May 2017. At the launch we tasted the Smoked Negroni (made with gin, Campari, sweet red vermouth and smoked hickory chips soaked in Grand Marnier); the Whisky Sour (made of Jim Beam Rye, lemon juice, sugar, egg white and shiraz), the Paloma (made of tequila, red grapefruit juice and soda); and the classic Expresso Martini (made with vodka, espresso coffee, coffee liqueur and sugar syrup).


For more information about Howard’s Cantina & Cocktail Bar, email