This hundred-year-old pub avoided the usual slick, stainless steel renovation for a light and airy job with cane basket lamps, brightly lit candy stripes, potted palms, white louvers and roaring antique fireplaces. They serve up just what a contemporary pub bistro should – comfort, familiarity, a few exotics and some vegetarian, including a Kumera and Kale Risotto with Mascarpone ($18), and salad choices too.
Create your own entrée grazing plate from a list of individually priced items like a fine Chicken Liver Parfait ($7) made fresh daily; a tasty Grilled Chorizo and Haloumi ($8) combination; and nicely cooked Salt and Pepper Soft Shell Crab ($10).
With the weather a little woolly I opted for the Pot Pie of the Day ($14), a filling affair of lamb and rosemary under puff pastry served with mash, peas and gravy.
My dining companion’s Pappardelle with Rabbit Ragu ($22) suited a glass of McLaren Vale 2008 Tapestry Chardonnay ($8);
...but with Lou Reed urging us to walk on the wild side, we headed up to the cocktail lounge for a citrusy Earl Grey Martini ($15) and a warm Chai Toddy ($15). The latter, made from chai tea, peppermint schnapps, spiced rum and honey, works surprisingly well. Smokers can select from a well-heated courtyard or the people-watching Crown Street balcony.
The Dolphin Hotel
412 Crown Street, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 9331 4800