Established in 1880, the Riverview Hotel is located in Balmain on Birchgrove Road, just off of the bustling Darling Street. If you didn’t know of this pub/restaurant then it is unlikely that you would come by it as it is located in a residential area of Balmain rather than on the main thoroughfare.
We had a booking for dinner on Saturday night at 6.30pm in the restaurant and it is advisable to make a booking in advance as the weekends do tend to fill up. The restaurant is located upstairs, whilst the pub is on the ground floor and offers a casual dining option.
When we arrived, it wasn’t that busy and we had a table in a quiet part of the restaurant in the corner which was cosy. The restaurant was decorated nicely with various food related pictures on the walls. The one by us was a picture of a knife, fork and spoon.
A waiter soon arrived with some menus and we started off with tap water and a glass of red wine each for $10 a glass. The menu wasn’t too big, with about 5 dishes for entrees and mains. I decided to go for the duck entrée followed by the main special which was Beef Wellington. We also decided to share a side of chips.
Our entrees came out after about 10 minutes and my duck dish looked absolutely delicious and well presented. It was a good size portion and a very colourful dish. It was like a salad full of crunchy nashi pear and pomegranate. The duck was nice and tender and the skin was deliciously crispy. In a word – yum and I cleared my plate!
After about 15 minutes, our main courses came out and my Beef Wellington looked divine. Again both mains were beautifully presented and were a good size. You probably didn’t need the extra chips.
My beef was cooked perfectly and still red in the middle and the pastry was wafer thin. The carrots were beautiful and the broad beans crunchy and the sauce was plentiful. Unfortunately when I tried the red cabbage I got a mouthful of star anise which I don’t think was meant to be in there, and as I bit down my mouth was overpowered with the taste of aniseed and liquorice – yuck! It was absolutely disgusting, especially as I hate liquorice and this ruined it for me, as for the rest of the meal all I could taste was this flavour.
Once we finished our mains, we looked at the dessert menu, but there was nothing I really fancied, and there was only three choices: Panacotta, Bread and Butter Pudding and something else as well as cheese. It was a shame that nothing grabbed my attention, as I really fancied a dessert, which rarely happens for me!
Overall, we had a very pleasant meal, apart from my star anise encounter. Everything was cooked perfectly and presented nicely on the plates and the restaurant itself was atmospheric and where we were sat it was not too noisy, compared to the pub downstairs which was quite boisterous by the time we left.
This was a relatively expensive dinner with mains around the $34 mark; however it was still affordable compared to city restaurants and the food was wholesome and delicious. I will definitely return.