We'll end the year with some convivial good cheer at The Winery. Armed with a gaggle of gal pals, I descended upon this Surry Hills stalwart for their popular Bottomless Bellinis Lunch ($79/head). Climbing the stairs, you’re immediately assaulted with noise. The room is packed to the rafters, and nearly every diner is a woman with gleaming long hair, clad in either a frock or a playsuit (wardrobe choice will prove important later on).
Most are seated at long tables, but there are a few more intimate girlfriend catch-ups scattered here and there.
We’re happily ensconced in the room’s sole curved booth, complete with a Perrier-Jouët Champagne button, enticing us to 'Press for Champagne'. We try it, obviously, but sadly it doesn’t make our waiter appear.
When Eduardo does arrive, he’s handsome and friendly. He eventually accedes to our early request to get another round of drinks underway. Like most of the women in this room, we’re here to get in some quality drinking time, so it feels a little like being treated like a recalcitrant toddler to hear you can’t be double or triple parked with the trio of available Bellini. We broach a deal and dutifully scull our first glass to ensure we're empty by the time Eduardo appears with our second, working our way through raspberry, peach and lychee. While I start off preferring the more acidic lychee, I drink the most peach Bellinis, only shifting to raspberry later in the day when I need a break from the acidity.
Despite the initial adherence to responsible service of alcohol, it takes three or four rounds of Bellinis before any food gets underway.
When it does arrive, our food comes in two distinct waves - hot and cold.
In the first wave we get plentiful bowls of Alto mixed olives and a moderately sized cheese board for six people that's perhaps a bit heavily weighted towards blue.
There’s a small plate of good quality salumi - one slice each of three different cold cuts - and not quite enough crackers, grissini and bread to consume them with.
The second wave is hot food, starting with charred pita bread with chickpea dip.
Each diner gets a mini Winery burger, that’s tasty even if it doesn’t look all that flash.
By the time I pop my allocated spinach and four-cheese arancini with aioli and a touch of lemon into my mouth, I’m starting to get the point. This is food designed specifically to soak up alcohol – heavy on the carbs.
There’s a big bowl of sweet potato fries and some deep-fried cauliflower with sour cream and hint of harissa – nothing I’d hurry back again to eat, but that’s clearly not the point.
The wisdom of wearing a playsuit comes into question on my first visit to the bathroom, when one young lass can be heard to exclaim: “Did you see my vagina?” Getting completely stripped in a tiny cubicle proved too daunting for her to also remember to close and lock the door. “I hope you liked what you saw,” she says as she flounces out the door and the whole bathroom erupts into uproarious laughter.
Dessert is more alcohol, with frothy Champagne poured into glasses of sorbet at the table.
Drinking this Champagne spider against a good quality salt-topped chocolate apiece, I finally achieve that elusive state of being triple parked.
I also find some empathy for our handsome waiter, Eduardo, who says: “At 3pm it all starts again,” with a slightly beaten smile as he clears away the rose petal remnants of our dessert. Also used as Bellini toppers, I can tell you, a lot of roses died to make this meal.
It does look like a trying day for floor staff as I watch the room get more and more raucous. When I return to the bathroom for a final visit, a winking lass is trying to get Jenny to let her in. “I’m vomiting,” Jenny replies. “It’s OK, I’ll hold your hair back,” her friend quickly replies. And maybe these moments are what friendship between women is all about, in between posing for snaps with the lion’s head Prosecco fountain, that is.
285A Crown Street, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 8322 2007
NOTE: You can read a previous review for this venue back HERE.