Ah The Winery, Surry Hill’s fun little hangout – and when you mention the name people either say they love it or hate it.
"We booked a table there and they told us we had to be gone in 45 minutes!"
"They have the BEST share plates and coktails!"
"I called two weeks in advance and they would not give us a table!"
"I love that place!!"
I find these four descriptions relatable when it comes to The Winery, and despite a handful of little disappointing experiences, I still enjoy coming here. One rainy afternoon, Demos and I were deciding on some place for a nice snack and dessert – So why not The Winery?
It always feels like a big spectacle trying to get a table here - whether its just getting a table for two or even when you are just meeting friends. Walking though the laneway entrance is like stepping into a secret garden hideaway. It’s only until you run into the sharply dressed doorman with an earpiece that you realize you are in the middle of the city. This is the Surry Hills equivalent to the professional Yum Cha door lady - you know your chances of being fed all rely on them - and their magical earpieces. We score a table and from the doorman, we get passed onto someone who led us to our seats and then finally, a friendly waitress.
I wouldnt describe Winary's decor to be quirky at all..in fact I Cant even think of just one word that describes it. Who knew that random chandeliers or flower pots hanging from the cieling actually fits so attracively well with the cowhide barstool? There is a very unique charm about this place - like a mash-up of a very Shabby Chic and the Marlboro man..in a garden of some sort.
Come on, any place with mounted deer heads cant be all too girly right? Clockwise from top left - faux animal hide bar stools, the overhead overflowing flower pots (watch your head) and vintage chandeliers, The upstairs bar and dining area, and A happy family of four deers. Its seems like everywhere you look there is something interesting to look at, and I half expect a cowboy riding a unicorn to appear from nowhere.
I think that once that you are comfortably seated, thats it - your battle is done.The service cannot be faulted here as everyone is attentive and very helpful. Once, we even had a waiter who was a bit hung over - but it was still service with a smile and enthusiasm like no other. But the biggest decision any person is faced with now is which drink to order. With a name like Winery, of course there would be a selection of over 50 wines, and a fancy cocktail list to match.
But since its a lazy afternoon, we stick to the Rose Sangria - a favorite - and on Sundays, its $15 dollar jug day. In my professional Sangria opinion - the Rose variety is most refershing with a generous serve of strawberries. We have previously tried their fruitier white wine version, with mint and lychees and the red wine verison - which is strong and spicy. Oh and we also ran into Mrs Fridgemagnet out and about with her Girlfiends! Hi Mom!We decided to take Domo out again, we have been keeping him at home since he decided to eat little children when we were in Tokyo. He is well behaved now and getting behind MO-vember. No, its not a disguise from Authorities.
Okay, enough gratuitious photo's (That is our friend Sancho, he live's in the entrance door to the mensroom, handsome fellow) - Chow time!
It was well past luchtime at 3pm, so lets call this a hearty afternoon tea.I order one of their share plates - just for myself of course. The "Warm bread, Olives, Cheddar and Today's Dip". Unfortunately this time, the bread was not warm nor was the Pumpkin dip a standout. A bit dissapointeing as this shareplate was $16, one of the lesser priced dishes on offer.
A hungrier Demos order's the Sunday Roast of the Day plate for $23. It was generous serve of roast pork shoulder, with the most amazing gravy. I think its a bit like russian roulette when it comes to the gravy, but this one was a winner. I immediately forgot about my boring pumpking dip - my bread got dipped in the warm gravy instead. There was also a handfull of green string beans and snow peas to help snap you out of the cholesterol coma that this succulent roast brings.
MMMeat.I do love it when Demos insists that we need dessert. I couldnt say no of course, so we choose The Double Chocolate Brownie with vanilla ice-cream and fairy floss for $13. Such a great choice!
Persian fairy floss or Pashmak is my absolute addiction, and we find ourselves fighting over which side of the plate the bundle goes. Lucky we were sharing - the brownie is so sinfully rich I 'had to 'cut' the choclatey-ness with the vanilla ice cream. Domo wanted his share too, he was tired of terrorising birds.
I think the best way to catch up with friends is over sangria and share plates - and if you are after a social place where you can just kick back with your nearest and dearest I would definitely recommend the Winery. Call ahead to make a reservation to avoid any hassles, but usually half the restaurant remains un-reserved for those spontaneus hunger pains. I like to remember that this place is a wine bar first, and they just so happen to serve food. I Wouldn't say the food is cheap either, so its definately not a cafe - so i think ill stick with the "Wine Bar + Food + Great Atmosphere = Winery" equation.
Cold bread aside and pricy dishes aside, I still enjoy lazy afternoons getting lost in the whimsical madness that is The Winery. They had me with the Sangria from the start.
Winery - 285A Crown St Surry Hills 2010 Phone : 02 - 9331 0833
http://thegazebos.com.au/winery/ have a look at their awesome website.