We were fortunate enough to be invited to try the new dinner menu at the Paddington Deli and Epicerie. We had had brunch there before, and had wanted to see what it was like there of an evening, but hadn’t made it back.
As previously detailed, it very much has a European bent, the interior set with wooden floors and exposed brick walls, and chandelier lights hanging from the ceiling. There are some tables and seats outdoors, but in the cooler climes, the indoor seating is more comfortable. To add to the atmosphere, there was a lit candle at each table.
We were greeted at the entrance, and promptly shown to a table. A bottle of chilled water, glasses, and menus soon followed.
It was a relaxed atmosphere, with patrons at a couple of other tables having discussions at a comfortable volume. Pop music from a number of years ago, of the likes of Robbie Williams and Sophie Ellis Baxter, played softly in the background.
The menu was divided into the quite typical sections of Entrees, Mains, Sides, and Desserts. The dishes were mainly quite typical European fare, with occasional Middle Eastern and Asian departures. There were items on it it to satisfy most people though.
From the Entrees, we couldn’t go past the sticky pork belly and the gnocchi with truffle cream sauce.
The Sticky pork belly came with capsicum puree, radish, and pickled vegetables. The pork belly was tender, and what would be very aptly described as melt-in-your-mouth. The braised meat was nicely sweet, and the gelatinous fatty layer melded with it, so each bite had a rich, juicy texture. A steak knife had been provided, but we certainly didn’t need it. The capsicum sauce was also mildly sweet, and tasted, well, like pureed capsicum. It was also a good colour punch to the dish. The radish slices were thinly shaved and pickled, adding both crunch and a piquant brightness.
The Gnocchi with truffle cream sauce also had classic flavour accompaniments of garlic mushrooms and sage. We had immediately been drawn to it when we saw it on the menu, influenced by the cold weather outside. When brought to the table, it immediately looked promising, the pasta seared so that they had temptingly brown outsides, and a good amount of parmesan cheese shaved over the top of the heap. They also proved to be rather delicious on eating, each gnocchi dumpling tender and warm when bitten into, with plenty of that buttery, cheesy mushroom sauce to coat them. There were lots of mushroom slices in the dish, and they also had the unusual element of enoki mushrooms. It wasn’t just butter and cheese, but also well-seasoned, and with good umami flavour. They were less truffly than we expected, with the truffle aroma coming through only in some patches, but it was great winter comfort food nonetheless.
From the sides, going again with comforting winter dishes, we chose Duck fat potatoes with aioli. They had a lovely baked aroma when brought to the table. The wedges were a beautiful golden brown. They had crisp skins, and were soft inside. The garlicky, creamy aioli went well with them. We couldn’t, however, detect additional flavour from duck fat. They were good baked potatoes though.
After going back and forth between a few of the mains, like the half spatchcock with asparagus and chicken glaze, we picked the Eye fillet and the Lamb belly.
The Eye fillet with celeriac puree, potato fondant, kale, and red wine just was plated with a bit of flourish, the round of meat sitting upon yin-yang shaped smears of the celeriac puree, mirrored by the potato fondant on the other side, and swirling drizzles of the red wine jus around. The eye fillet was cooked medium rare as requested, pink in the middle. The jus was caramelised, and had a robust, sweet, fruity red wine flavour. The fondant potato was buttery soft in the middle, and crisp on the outside where it had been browned. The parsnip puree was smooth and slightly sweet. Altogether it was a classic combination done well.
The Lamb belly with winter root vegetables and spiced labna was cooked with a bit of a twist. The lamb belly meat was tender, with a rich fatty layer. On top though, was the thinnest layer of crispy skin, like a crunchy wafer. It was an interesting contrast in textures, and we had not had lamb cooked like that before. There were also slightly sweet cooked beetroots, and thin beetroot discs. There were Middle Eastern flavours from the tangy labna and scattered sweet, squishy dates. The brussel sprouts added a little not unpleasant bitterness. Again, it was a prettily plated dish, with a range of flavours packed in.
We hesitated over whether to get dessert, as although we had begun the meal hungry, we were quite full by this point. It is, however, an important part of a meal..and so we had the Peanut butter parfait and the Pecan pie.
The Peanut butter parfait came with salted caramel, chocolate crisp, and roasted peanut. The parfait was creamy, but there were icy parts to it rather than it being completely smooth. It was also more just sweet than having peanut butter flavour. The chocolate crisp, which made a soil base, was missing a bit of crunch. The salted caramel was well balanced, so that it wasn’t either too sweet or too salty. The chocolate bark, which made nice additional decorative bits to the dessert, wasn’t quite tempered, but as it was made of dark chocolate, it wasn’t sweet, and added the right flavour note to the dessert.
The Pecan pie came with whipped cream on the menu, but we requested it be changed to ice cream instead, not being fans of whipped cream (sorry, but it just seems like airy fatty nothing). There were plenty of pecans in it, and a caramelly sweet filling in the spaces between them. The ice cream was very light, but just sweet rather than tasting of vanilla. It was an alright dessert, but one definitely had to be a sweet tooth to appreciate it.
The waitstaff were lovely throughout, always cheerful, and checking on how we were going with our meals. Our cutlery was changed between every course, as would happen in a fine dining restaurant.
Overall, Paddington Deli’s new dinner menu has some good things going for it. The desserts may not be a strong suit, but the entrees and the mains were delicious. With the lovely setting and the warm service, it’s a good place to go for a bit of a treat.
See previous for scoring.
Price point: Entrees $10 to $23. Mains $23 to $34. Sides $8.50. Desserts $10 to $15.
Address: 153 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington
Phone: 07 3367 8819
Website: Paddington Deli and Epicerie