Just down the street from Hoppers Pub, another bar caters to the thirsty students of Rolla. Sydney’s stands out from the other bars on the street right away, offering a small front patio under a portico. It’s face is reminiscent of an Irish pub, and it often feels that way. There are frequently older patrons enjoying the night air and having a smoke in front of the bar. Unfortunately this sometimes means that getting to the door involves enduring a cloud of smoke.
Once inside, the bar becomes a lot more appealing. The front part of Sydney’s features the majority of their seating as well as the bar, where there are often many regulars making conversation with the bartender. The atmosphere is cozy, if not a bit cramped, giving the bar a warmth that bars like Hoppers struggle to replicate. Sydney’s is clearly a bar that belongs to the town, and most Friday and Saturday nights feature a diverse mixture of locals and students (and sometimes S&T professors).
The back room is where all of the games are located, and also features the best view of a TV. This area features video slots, a Deadpool themed pinball machine, and the pool, which you can enjoy for a one dollar donation. This area is often crowded with people waiting for a turn at the pool table or standing around and chatting.
On weekends, the noise of the back room is accompanied by the dull sound of dance music rising from a long stairwell at the edge of the room. This descends into the 707 Club, a dimly lit underground area with a second bar, beer pong tables, and a small dance floor. This area of Sydney’s is a bit too small to be a true dance club, but is a good place to head in the late hours of the night, when loud music and flashing lights begin to sound much more appealing.
I returned to Sydney’s around 7:00 on a Saturday to try their burgers and see if they still remained one of my favorites in Rolla. As usual for a Saturday, the front seating area was entirely full. Luckily, there were seats available in the back room, although the limited seating means there could have been a wait.
The dinner menu at Sydney’s features three different burgers, ranging from a basic burger, to a pico de gallo burger, to the Big Bull, a massive burger with two patties, cheese, bacon, and all the veggies. This was my choice for the night, and as I had tasted it once before, I wanted to confirm that this was one of the best burgers in Rolla.
After putting in the order, I was a bit surprised to realize that the waitress had not asked how I wanted the burger cooked. I quickly forgot when the burger arrived. The Big Bull is definitely one of the larger burgers you can get in Rolla, if not the largest. After adding the lettuce, onions, and tomato, the burger strikes an intimidating visage. It is served impaled with a steak knife with a full jalapeno on top. (Presumably toothpicks were too frail to truly contain this burger)
The burger was difficult to eat, but stayed together surprisingly well even after removing the knife. It was worth the effort, however, because the combination of the meats and American cheese with fresh veggies and a warm bun created a greasy but delicious burger.
Unfortunately, the patties were over cooked, leaving no pink. I can forgive this though because they were cooked in the style of a smashburger, which favors grease over the natural juiciness of the meat. The result is a burger that is focused less on the meat and more on the combination of flavors and toppings.
The Big Bull ends up tasting more like a fast food burger than one you would find at a typical bar, but still leads to a very satisfying meal. This goes very well with the decision to use American cheese, as using a more complex cheese would feel incongruous with the rest of the burger.
For my fries, I opted for the Missouri fries, which are essentially small potato wedges. They were a little disappointing, and had a subtle bitter flavor that made them taste off.
Overall, Sydney’s is a great destination for both food and drinks, certainly worth checking out when you’re in the mood for a greasy burger, but want something more substantial than fast food.