This sensitively renovated gastro-pub dining room is very Balmain. “I’m putting up a registry for my thirtieth,” cuts through from a neighbouring table as if to illustrate my point. Luckily most conversation is reduced to an indistinct murmur by the room’s angles, so I lose myself in the picturesque Balmain roof-line and purple hued sky.
Lucinda Newton oozes slickness and professionalism on the floor. She’s yet to put her mark on David Myers’ exciting wine list, but knows her way around it well – our recommended 2008 Chateau Bouscassé Petit Corbu ($66) is slick and exciting.
She even redeems Chianti with a 2008 La Querce Chianti Sangiovese ($12/glass) brilliantly paired with Head Chef Brad Sloane’s dish of the night, Parsley and Pine Nut Crusted Lamb Rump ($30) with smoked eggplant and textbook herb gnocchi and crunchy anchovy fritters.
Well-cooked Roast Duck Breast and Croquette with Pickled Pear and Celeriac ($34) seems muted by comparison.
House-made Pappardelle with Lamb Shanks, Tarragon, Peas, Proscuitto and Pea Butter ($19/$28) is gentle, silky and harmonious.
Chef’s restraint comes alive in the excellent Vanilla Panna Cotta with Summer Berries and Bellini Sorbet ($13).
But it’s the seasonally appropriate Bakewell Tart with Blood Plum Sorbet ($13) that grabs me most.
Order three courses... we also enjoyed a smaller version of their Tasting Plate for Two ($38), with the Grilled Prawns with Chorizo and Romesco coming up trumps.
The Riverview Hotel
29 Birchgrove Road, Balmain
Ph: (02) 9810 1151 www.theriverviewhotel.com.au