The needs for date night are simple. They begin with two consenting adults who are willing to get into a taxi with each other on a wet Saturday evening. Having resisted the pull of the sofa, the television and their associated wireless Apple devices, the also need to make some Effort With Their Appearance. For some this involves faithfully wearing the 'loud' sweater their wife bought for them from 'some fancy European place'. For others, this involves spending the afternoon at an uptown hairdresser AND applying a face of subtle make up. Both replace their ugg boots with sensible flat shoes (for the weather and the walk to the taxi) and finally, the procession is ready to leave for the evening - at 5.45pm. I told you we are oldies.
Amongst the many good things about long term coupledom (why hello, Mr SSG, great to know you're reading the blog today) is that going out is about having a few hours together to shoot the breeze about life and the world. There's no need for chest pounding music, food as art or a movie to fill in any moments of awkward silence. These days, if there is awkward silence it is because someone said something to deserve one.
Which leads me to how Mr SSG and I spent a very enjoyable date night at The Bellevue Hotel in Paddington. The hotel has been recently renovated and the interiors were designed by Michelle Leslie. The design brief focussed on warmth, comfort and the heritage of the original hotel.
Vintage chandeliers hung throughout the hotel and cast soft light and sparkle over the rooms.
|It was World Rugby night so this is as close as I got the blackboard menu and the open kitchen.|
An open bar and restaurant are the features of the ground floor but we spent the evening upstairs which features two private dining rooms and a second bar. The whole hotel was heaving by 6.30pm. The cool weather, the big rugby game and it being a Saturday night all making it the perfect night to be down at your local pub.
We were here not only for a good night out, but also on a SSG as Food Critic assignment. Charlene, who was managing the functions area for the evening found us a quiet corner so that I could think and observe and reflect upon the teachings of Terry Durack, who has been The Source for the restaurant review aspects of my blog, though I don't think he knows this yet. Terry is big on social commentary and the context of food in his reviews and I shall endeavour to provide the same albeit from a less evolved perspective.
We began the evening in the second private room which was furnished with generously stuffed easy chairs, candelabras and an antique wood buffet.
It was a room designed for comfort - I love the checked carpet.
The art work on the walls harked back to our Australian colonial heritage. Despite the coziness, there was also a sense of space and an air of correctness of the 'olden days' with a relaxed tone. It's hard to describe but it just felt Australian and not a nod to the past of American or British culture. Have you ever felt that way about revisiting the heritage of our country? You can't put it into words but it's definitely and distinctly present.
Mr SSG was equally enamoured of the flat screen.
After settling in, we placed an order for dinner. The head chef at the Bellevue is Nathan Lakeman and I will say right now that the food is outstanding and reflects the current focus on pub food being at the same standard if not higher than what you would expect to find at a restaurant. We are definitely in gastropub territory here. The food at the Bellevue caters to both the classics of pub fare such as burgers as well as shared plates or long boards with a Spanish influence. There are separate menus for the upstairs bar (where we were) and the restaurant downstairs. Details for both are on the website which I have linked to earlier.
Tapas in a pub with the sport on a flat screen and a bottle of red. Could date night get any better for Mr SSG?
|I was in my element with a glass of prosecco and a a towering flower arrangement.|
The long board is a shared plate of four dishes that would feed 2 hungry people as part of dinner or 4 to share with drinks. I think I'm a convert to wooden serving platters. They are rustic, indestructible and photograph so well.
The stuffed mushrooms were full of flavour and tempted me to rekindle the idea of becoming a part time vegetarian. Vegetarians, do not despair, there are meat free shared boards for you at The Bellevue as well.
What is not to like about salt and pepper squid? Lightly battered, fresh ringlets with a drizzle of mayonnaise and a fennel dipping sauce. The fennel sauce is something I've never tried with squid and it was actually a very successful pairing.
The garlic prawns refused to be photographed in focus. I can't think why. They were deliciously plump, not overpoweringly garlicky and shared their cast iron serving dish with some cherry tomatoes.
I took a break from the food for a moment to have a look outside the window of the dining room. I have this thing for shuttered windows. It was a cosy view out on to the historic terrace houses that Paddington and this part of Sydney's East in general is famous for.
The last dish of the board were the pork and fennel meat balls. The sauce was so fresh that there were crushed cherry tomatoes in it.
|Mixed long board $45.|
After I faffed around taking food photos, it was time to head out to the open bar and park ourselves on some leather easy chairs for the rest of the evening.
|Bellevue burger $18.50.|
|Cinnamon dusted churros with a whisky chocolate dipping sauce $7.50.|
The crowd at the hotel was an easy mix of small groups and couples out for a quiet evening, gently boisterous and good humoured rugby fans and the guests of a fancy dress party. Everyone was out for a night of good food and a bit of fun in a relaxed atmosphere away from the horrible weather and I think we all got what we wanted.
I can't think of a better way to have your whisky than in a chocolate sauce with a churro or three...
The roars with each goal for the rugby were getting louder as the night progressed and the guests for the fancy dress party in the dining room were arriving with more and more original costumes.
Mr SSG and I were on to our final drinks for the road before responsibly heading out for a taxi. We will be back.
Mr SSG and I had dinner at The Bellevue as guests of the hotel and their agency Trish Nicol. We extend our thanks to Charlene Burke and the wonderful staff from The Bellevue as well as Kalli Marshall from Trish Nicol for their generosity and hospitality.