VINE, Double Bay

Vine Double Bay

“Succulent strands of meat appear as I sink my fork into this lamb shoulder”

~~~~~~~~O~~~~~~~~

Known more for expensive boutiques pampering to ladies of leisure in Sydney’s eastern suburbs than good restaurants, the stigma on Double Bay is slowly but surely changing over the last few months.

Steve HodgesFishface and Simon Goh‘s Chinta Kechil are already buxom buddies, taking up space next to each other along New South Head road.

“I have heard some good things about this place” the Monk tells us. “And none of you pesky food bloggers or anyone else for that matter has written a single word about this restaurant” he adds.

“Well, lets check out the freakin’ joint then” I suggest.

So on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, Mysaucepan and I are here with the Monk for a lazy lunch.

V I N E, Double Bay

Cocktail bar at VINE, Double Bay

Cocktail bar at VINE, Double Bay

We are greeted by an enticing cocktail bar with spirits and aperitifs lined up against a white timber clad wall.

General Manager Mikee Collins making G & Ts

General Manager Mikee Collins making G & Ts

“You must be the best dressed bartender in Sydney” I say to the gentleman in a bright orange necktie behind the bar as I walk into the restarant.

“Thank you sir, my name is Mikee Collins and I am the General Manager here. Welcome to the VINE” he greets us while adding cucumber slices into a couple of Hendricks gin & tonic.

Surviving a 25 metre fall off an apartment building in 2011, Collins has made a come back to the industry with new zeal. His pedigree includes setting up Merivale’s Ash Street Cellar, Alira Moorish Food & Wine Bar and Gazebo Wine Garden.

He has now teamed up with owners Gavin Douchkov and Manny Karson and signed on Drew Bolton as head chef whose resume includes stints at Napa Valley’s French Laundry and Darley’s at Lillianfels in the Blue Mountains.

Communal table at VINE, Double Bay

Communal table at VINE, Double Bay

The dining room is soaked with natural light and cane chairs lend a tropical feel that spills onto a private courtyard where guests mingle.

The elegant setting reminds me of Hotel Centennial yet the casual vibe of this room makes me feel as though I am in the comforts of my own home.

A wooden communal table sitting thirty is a permanent centrepiece and is hosting an entire group for lunch today.

French Martini $20

French Martini $20

Mysaucepan‘s French Martini is bittersweet with Chambord raspberry liqueur, vodka and pineapple juice.

2012 Marco Polo Pinot Grigio

2012 Marco Polo Pinot Grigio $65

“No more sauvignon blancs OK!” I declare to Mysaucepan and the Monk. We agree in a heartbeat.

One varietal that all three of us unanimously concur is a citrusy pinot gris on a warm sunny day like this.

2012 Marco Polo Pinot Grigio

2012 Marco Polo Pinot Grigio $65

Ramato in Italian means copper coloured.

Our 2012 Marco Polo Pinot Grigio is made with skin contact on the grapes producing an alluring copper colour. Flavours of pear, jasmine and apple combine to produce a refreshing and crisp wine with amazing texture and minerality.

This wine is as good as its mark-up from $19.99 per bottle price on many on-line liquor stores.

Roasted bug tails, lime, fregula and spiced white carrot 

Roasted bug tails, lime, fregula and spiced white carrot $24

Roasted bug tails, lime, fregula and spiced white carrot $24

According to the chef, the roasted bug tails come from the Gulf of Carpentaria off the Northern Territory and Queensland.

Roasted bug tails, lime, fregula and spiced white carrot $24

Roasted bug tails, lime, fregula and spiced white carrot $24

The fregula is al dente just as the bug tails are firm and beautifully caramelized.

Bursts of finger lime add citrusy notes while crunchy roasted almonds allure my senses to a rich and velvety seafood broth.

Quail poached in five spice, bone marrow, dried fig, blood orange, witlof  

Quail poached in five spice, bone marrow, dried fig, blood orange, witlof $24

Quail poached in five spice, bone marrow, dried fig, blood orange, witlof $24

A quail is de-boned and quartered, one half poached the other deep-fried.

Five spice is subtle though I find a little bitterness from the deep-fried portions being slightly overdone. Wedges of blood orange and fig add more sweetness to a deep brown honey and marrow glaze.

Rankin cod, banana prawn, asparagus, galangal scented shrimp bouillon 

Rankin cod, banana prawn, asparagus, galangal scented shrimp bouillon $34

Rankin cod, banana prawn, asparagus, galangal scented shrimp bouillon $34

A few chunks of crisp-skinned cod, banana prawn and asparagus are swimming in a pool of galangal scented shrimp bouillon redolent of a Marseilles-inspired seafood bouillabaisse.

This dish is elegant though for a main, it can be a lot more generous in size.

Slow roast shoulder of white Pyrenees lamb, black olive, roast tomato, spring peas, fondant potato 

Slow roast shoulder of white Pyrenees lamb, black olive, roast tomato, spring peas, fondant potato $62

Slow roast shoulder of white Pyrenees lamb, black olive, roast tomato, spring peas, fondant potato $62

Blistered truss cherry tomatoes sit on a slow roast Pyrenees lamb shoulder, its skin golden brown from the oven. Chunky pieces of fresh zucchini and spring peas are thrown into the mix with roasted fondant potatoes and black olives.

“Do you remember that glorious Milly Hill lamb rack we had at Hotel Centennial?” I ask Mysaucepan.

“How can I forget?” she replies immediately.

“Of course, especially when we needed a doggy bag too. The slow roast lamb shoulder would be my choice since we have Monk‘s help this time.” I request.

“But a slow roast doesn’t fully show the skill of a chef” Mysaucepan and Monk laments.

“Who cares?” I say. “I bet it’s going to be tasty!”

Slow roast shoulder of white Pyrenees lamb, black olive, roast tomato, spring peas, fondant potato $62

Slow roast shoulder of white Pyrenees lamb, black olive, roast tomato, spring peas, fondant potato $62

Succulent strands of meat appear as I sink my fork into this lamb shoulder.

Fondant essentially means cooking with stock but I would have preferred these potatoes cooked through a lot more.

Bold pieces of skin-on potato may be rustic with country style wholesomeness but sadly, they are bordering on dry and chalky. Thankfully lamb juices at the bottom of this roasting pot are coming to the rescue.

Slow roast shoulder of white Pyrenees lamb, black olive, roast tomato, spring peas, fondant potato $62

Slow roast shoulder of white Pyrenees lamb, black olive, roast tomato, spring peas, fondant potato $62

While our cod fish main is rather puny for $34, the size of this lamb shoulder is far more generous. A few pinches of salt bring out gamey flavours of meat and fat.

From previous experience, doggy bagging our shared lamb rack at Hotel Centennial was a bloody delicious meal the day after. And it’s no different with this lamb shoulder because it brings back wonderful moments from our  lunch yesterday.

And it’s a delicious Sunday lunch for me as I write this blog post for you.

VINE, Double Bay

VINE, Double Bay

So dear readers, are you happy ordering restaurant dishes that are tasty but don’t show much skill from the chef?

VINE
2 Short street
Double Bay, New South Wales

Vine Double Bay on Urbanspoon

Tel: +61 2 9363 0010

Opening hours:

Mondays closed. Tuesdays to Wednesdays 3pm – midnight, Thursday to Saturday 12pm to midnight, Sunday 12pm – 10pm (Dining room 12pm – 5pm)

For events and functions, email mikee@vinedoublebay.com

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14 Responses to VINE, Double Bay

  1. As long as it tastes good, I don’t care how much technique has gone into my dish -as far as I’m concerned, a great chef knows when to back off and let the produce do the talking! That slow cooked lamb looks delicious!

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear Lucy,

      Some produce like seafood and seasonal vegetables are so fresh that we would do injustice to their flavours if we muck about with it too much.

  2. Maureen says:

    The lamb wins the day. I hate potatoes that aren’t fully cooked. When it happens to me, I wonder what sort of chef can’t tell that the potatoes aren’t done. Stick a knife in there. :)

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear Maureen,

      LOL! Stick a knife in there I say! Potatoes are definitely one thing that is better to err overcook rather than undercook.

  3. Gosh that lamb shoulder looks amazing and so vibrant against all those different vegies! I wish I could sink my fork into it now and start pulling that meat off the bone!

  4. I love a good lamb shoulder! We make a slow roasted shoulder with roast tomatoes, garlic + salsa verde. So yummy!!! I could definitely do with a french martini right about now!

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear Sarah,

      I love lamb with salsa verde too because it gives the meat such a distinctive Italian / Mediterranean flavour. I would sometimes make a fresh bowl of salsa verde for my rib eye steaks too.

  5. mm~~ the bugs and lamb shoulder look and sound so delicious!! 😀
    Totally salivating, and I do agree Double Bay is making a change while I drove through it the other day

  6. I do like the look of the lamb… I’m not ever so fussed about testing the chef… just concerned with having a tasty meal!

  7. As a Hawke’s Bay sheep farmers’ daughter – yes the lamb would be a favourite. I think every meal tests the chef – it’s not just the cooking of the meat but everything else that goes with it – the whole package. And as others have said a good meal is what you are after.

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear Rachel,

      Save for the potatoes which were a little underdone, I thought the zucchini, truss tomatoes and peas worked so well with the lamb.

  8. That lamb shoulder looks incredible. And I think that showing restraint is one of the most difficult skills a chef can acquire.

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear Helen,

      I can’t agree with you more. Just like wine, bold flavours in food may get the taste vote but subtlety and elegance require a lot more skill and finesse.

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