When I’m trying out a restaurant for the first time and I find the food isn’t up to scratch I tend to adopt the “three strikes and you’re out” method with many of them. It may be a bit of a naive approach but I just don’t see the point in revisiting a place more than a few times when it wasn’t crash hot on previous drop-ins.
Living as close as we do to the Botany View Hotel makes this the obvious choice for a pub feed, and it’s signature restaurant – Darley Street Bistro – has given us very disappointing meals on two separate occasions, the last of which was actually quite bad. This was about a year ago when we had a lamb shank that could barely be cut with a knife and pork belly that was so overcooked and dry it was left uneaten. A real turn off.
A few months ago I noticed some changes to the pub exterior, such as a fresh lick of paint and even a new sign for the bistro. A much needed facelift. This is what started me thinking about giving it a go one more time and when my Mum recently flew down for the weekend we went over for lunch.
Apart from the external make-over the pub itself has retained its grubby charm. It’s a bit rough around the edges with its betting area at the back, damp aroma of sour yeast and locals downing schooners with mates. Walk past this or enter through the side on Darley Street and you arrive at the kitchen portal where you can choose from three blackboard menu’s.
One board displays quick and easy pub classics like burgers or nacho’s, the main one offers more gastro-pub fare such as confit-this and swordfish-that and the final board has a few desserts. You know the drill: order your food, pay up, take your buzzer and find a seat upstairs. Inside or out.
The chicken burger (12) here is probably just like any other you’ve had elsewhere or even made at home. Grilled breast with mixed leaves, guacamole, garlic mayo, bacon and cheese in a bun. Fries on the side and really nothing worth getting excited over, unless of course this is your first ever chicken burger. Fills the hole and nothing more.
Something I got excited over was the black angus beef shoulder (23). This well presented meal is a beautiful mountain of aged black angus that’s braised for four hours and served up with a roasted potato and garlic galette, puy lentils, crisp pancetta, roasted parsnip spears and sweet shallots.
The meat is meltingly soft and incredibly rich and the colourful duo of parsley oil and paprika oil sitting at polar ends of the platter add a light and aromatic layer that cut into the richness of the angus. I’ve had this dish twice now and both times couldn’t finish it.
The potato gnocchi (16) is another winner with its prettily arranged combination of kalamata olives, chilli and rosemary topped with a warm salad of chorizo, feta and roast tomatoes topped with wild rocket. The rich roasted tomato sauce is delicious and also has a bright green swirl of parsley oil. A wonderful combo with the soft pillows of gnocchi.
Well it looks like the third strike with Darley Street Bistro wasn’t out. Far from it, actually. For pub grub it’s pretty decent. Yes you can get your ordinary burgers here, but if you’re wanting something a little more posh in a not-so-posh venue, you can have that as well.