November 13, 2011
The Bellevue Hotel, Paddington
The lovely people from the Trish Nichol Agency and The Bellevue Hotel invited myself and a couple of other bloggers for a tasting session after the big revamp of the upstairs bar. It's really nice in a gentlemen's club sort of way. Luxurious leather armchairs, dark wood shutters, and lots of old world charm. The whole setting made me feel like dressing up in a 20's flapper dress and wear my hair in a short dutch bob - not that it's flattering on me, but you get the idea. I immediately got the impression that it would be great for a murder-mystery party. It is really unfortunate that the pictures I took of the interior really didn't do the venue any justice, but the photos on their website gives a great idea of the feel of it.
What I did get photos of though, is the food - what kind of food blogger fail would it be if I didn't?
We had the Meat Short Board, $35, the Mixed Short Board, $35 and the Mixed Long Board, $45, for maximum variety.
The Meat Short Board had Little Pig Sliders, Veal, Pork and Sage Meatballs, and Lamb Cutlets with Salsa Agresto.
There seems to be quite a lot of debate online as to what a "slider" actually is, but from what I can gather it's firstly a burger. Many say that it's a mini-burger, and some disagree, but I haven't seen a slider that wasn't some form of burger-type food, so let's go with that.
The meatballs and lamb completed the line up, with the meatballs carrying a light spice and the lamb nicely pink on the inside.
The Mixed Short Board had Patata's Bravas, Salt Cod Brandade with Anchovies, Capers & Toasted Sourdough and more Little Pig Sliders.
The Salt Cod Brandade with Anchovies was my favourite of the lot - this is my first time eating a Brandade - it being basically an emulsion of fish and oil - but I'm pretty sure that as a lover of fish, it's something that I'd be quite happy to try more of in future. And for those who are afraid of anchovies, rest assured that this is not the fishy, overly-oily cheap tinned versions that you find in inconspicuous corners of bad supermarkets. Yes, the dish is still relatively fish-y, but nothing as bad as the rep that anchovy seems to have.
And finally, the Mixed Long Board had Stuffed Mushrooms, Veal, Pork & Sage Meatballs, Garlic Prawns & Tomato Hot Pot and Salt & Pepper Squid with Fennel Aioli
The Salt and Pepper squid was the favourite at the table, and was nicely cooked, with a nice crunch on the batter without the squid being overcooked.
Now, if you're familiar with the blog you'd be wondering why I'm not going into detail about each dish and how it made me feel. The thing is, the food was...okay. Besides the squid and the brandade, everything else felt slightly under-seasoned. Now I'm a big lover of salt, so take from that what you will, but besides the seasoning, I felt that the food was just a touch..empty. It felt to me like whoever made those platters had a broken heart. Maybe he/she was having a bad day? The sliders - which we heard so much about - seemed to lack a wink in its eye, and the garlic prawns seemed to lack...the garlic. It was nice enough, but not something that would make me walk away planning the next trip.
What would make me want to plan the next trip back, though, was the ever-helpful Ian-the-bartender. I must admit that it might be a slightly biased experience since we dined as guests, but he seemed to be like a genuinely nice guy. He even proffered a great food idea - smoked salmon and baked beans. On a side tangent, it really works! And now you know where that idea came from.
But back to the topic at hand. The conclusion that we had come to at the end of the day was that - in all fairness - we food bloggers are quite a picky lot. We spend so much time dreaming about fabulous food that have been augmented by fabulous memories, that anything short of that does disappoint us slightly. To a regular pub-going public though, it's got great execution and is great food to pick at with a beer (I'm paraphrasing from Sara since I don't really drink). Most of our respective partners would be quite happily munching away and polishing off the platters, so maybe it's just us.
Either way, it's good to-share food, and the venue's great for a cozy party. Has anyone else been? What did you think?
We ate at:
The Bellevue Hotel
159 Hargrave St Map
Paddington, NSW 2021
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Tambourine of Insatiable Munchies and the other bloggers mentioned in this post dined as guests of The Bellevue Hotel and the Trish Nichols Agency.