Vanessa: Situated amongst the tree-lined streets of suburban Balmain is The Riverview Hotel. A quintessential, neighbourhood gastropub that offers patrons both a casual atmosphere downstairs as well as a more refined dining room upstairs.
Both locations offer menus that are reflective of the vibe they are trying to create and it works well. Myself, Bianca and Mr M arrived at The Riverview on a sunny Sunday afternoon to a bustling crowd enjoying their leisurely weekend lunches. We had a reservation upstairs in the dining room and were offered a table outside in the small courtyard. Needless to say we were delighted to have been given such a lovely table to enjoy the outdoor breeze…not to mention natural light!
The dining room menu reflects the English heritage of the chefs with dishes such as a pork terrine, pork pie and of course a Sunday roast with all the trimmings! We opted for starters to share between us to get the taste buds into gear ahead of our mains.
It was unanimous that the house baked beer bread with Pepe Saya butter ($4) was to be ordered with the three of us being suckers for the pairing. The bread was soft and warm but for me the slight taste of beer was present which I found a little off-putting, although it didn’t faze Bianca or Mr M.
Also from the nibbles menu we were advised to try the jamon croquettes with lemon aioli ($12) and what a recommendation that was! Crispy exterior with a smooth potato centre with prominent flavours from the jamon. A delicious little starter that I would definitely advise trying.
The Crispy Soft Shell Crab, Thai Herbs, Betel Leaves, Peanuts & Nam Jim ($18) from the entrée menu was an interesting choice mainly because the flavours were quite distinctly Thai, different from the other menu offerings. The shell was crispy and battered without being oily at all. The salad was fresh and zingy with a kick from the chill. A great flavour combo if you are looking to stray away from the more traditional pub fare.
Now, on to the mains. Would you expect the “Burger Queen”, Bianca, to order anything other than the burger? Ordinarily this cannot be ordered upstairs in the dining room however an exception was made on this occasion and the Wagyu Burger w Bacon, Beetroot, Tomato Relish & Chipotle Mayo ($20) was ordered. Overall Bianca enjoyed the burger however the patty was a little too well done and the size of it dominated the burger, leaving little chance for other flavours of cheese, lettuce and tomato to shine through. The chips were tasty and a generous portion was served alongside the burger. (For all Bianca’s FBAS crew, it was given a pickle score of 3.1/5)
Mr M, a lover of pastry, could not go past the pork pie with sweet corn puree ($27) . He was instantly impressed that the pastry completely encased the pork filling rather than just topping the pie. The pork centre was flaky yet dense and was well paired with a vibrant yellow corn puree. The size is deceptive as even though it isn’t a large pie, it is quite filling. It was given thumbs up all around and comes recommended, particularly if you like your pies.
The Sunday Roast with all the trimmings ($25) had my name all over it! A few years back I had the pleasure of living in London for a couple of years and one of my favourite days of the week was Sunday. Not only due to the obvious day of rest factor but also because it meant that pubs all around the city were rustling up roasts.
I developed a strong love for the Sunday roast and even more so for the Yorkshire pudding. The Riverview is the only place that I have had a Yorkshire pudding in Sydney that instantly transports me back to my Sunday sessions back in London town. The pictures speak for themselves. A generous serve of beef smothered in gravy, topped with colourful veggies and a plump, Yorkshire pudding with creamy horseradish. I loved everything about this and can’t wait to go back again for another roast.
Feeling extremely satisfied with our meals we decided to share a dessert between the three of us. We opted for the Chocolate Mousse, Honeycomb, Orange & Sherry Vinegar Caramel ($15) . The mousse was light, creamy and not overly sweet which paved the way for the sweetness from the honeycomb. The vinegar caramel offered a contrasting flavour and texture that when eaten along with the mouse worked well.
This wasn’t my first visit to the Riverview and it certainly won’t be the last. You can’t fault it for its creative and delicious menu, its varied atmosphere options and all round vibe making it an ideal place to spend an afternoon. It really is a like a little piece of England in the heart of the inner west and that Sunday roast…put it on your priority list next time you have a hankering for a hearty meal!
Photos by Bianca and Vanessa
*For Foods Sake dined as guests of the Riverview, all opinions are our own. Special thanks to Nicole and Roberto for their hospitality.