It is with huge thanks to Australian Good Food Guide that I was introduced to the wonderful folks at Paddock and Vine in Mona Vale. This was a little exciting, Mona Vale is my home town, I went through school here and have spent a lot of my youth in the area. It’s always a pleasure returning to a place with so many happy memories. And now I can legally drink, which helps considering Paddock and Vine is a Wine Bar.
Paddock and Vine is owned and operated by locals Johnny Tavernese and Chef Harry Dodson. This is their third food business venture on the Northern Beaches, which has included the immensely popular Smalltown that once thrived in Avalon.
PADDOCK AND VINE VENUE:
The restaurant/wine bar is located on the main roundabout in Mona Vale, the one that splits Bungan and Pittwater Roads. The venue itself is on Pittwater Rd but is addressed and in the building on Bungan Road and it’s slightly hidden. You will come to Pattison’s Patisserie and think you have missed it but keep walking around the corner and you will be rewarded. The venue itself is quite long and narrow. As you enter you will be standing in front of an open section that contains seating set out mostly for couples. This front section has a large window that can open to the outside where there are a few outdoor tables – will be a treat in summer.
The venue describes itself as Rustic Mediterranean in design but I get a more Industrial Scandi feel with lots of lighter coloured woods, some good art on the wall and some great colour pairings. Exposed cement, blue tiles, wood and vines. It is beautifully fit out. Paddock and Vine then shows you a wonderfully appointed bar as the centrepiece, there is a lot of wine glasses hanging from the bar that is there to tell you “THIS IS A WINE BAR.”
Beyond the bar is the back section which offers larger tables, booth seating and the open kitchen. I love an open kitchen, watching artists work is always enjoyable. The back section does lose a lot of natural light with the front window being the only natural light source. But this is why we have electricity.
PADDOCK AND VINE WINE:
My dining partner for this outing is good friend James. James is a wine snob of the highest order, he is also one of my two partners in the bi-annual Wine Snob’s Appreciation Dinners I host and we both spend way too much money on good plonk. He has managed vineyards, would be considered a sommelier, and has a nose for the grape better than most I have seen. We discussed the Paddock and Vine wine list at length. The venue itself identifies as a Wine Bar first and then a Tapas style eatery to compliment the wine. Neither of us got that impression. We drank some wonderful wine but in all honesty the food far outshone the wine list. Neither of us was expecting food as exceptional as what Chef Harry Dodson served up. For more on the wine I will leave this with my expert friend…….
From James Stephenson
The wine list is short but interesting, with offerings mostly from boutique Australian producers and a handful of internationals. Disappointingly only a few wines are available by the glass and they are fairly stock standard varietals, so for Paddock and Vine to truly call themselves a wine bar this selection would need to be expanded substantially. The whites we tried were a delightfully crisp yet still textural Pinot Grigio from Orange and a very bold, somewhat overblown White Rioja, which seemed an odd choice for the only Chardonnay to be available by the glass. We finished with a deliciously slurpable Italian Sangiovese which had been appointed wine of the week, offering a nice alternative to the more obvious selections on the wine list itself.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE SHARING:
While sipping your first beverage it is time to get into the food. Paddock and Vine is all about the share plate. It’s a casual dinery that serves European and Australian inspired dishes. Since their opening, Paddock and Vine has been awarded as the Best Mediterranean Restaurant in Sydney by AGFG Readers Choice 2018 and OpenTable Diner’s Choice Award. The food is relaxed with mixes of food porn cheese heavy dishes to more healthier options – but one thing in common is that they all pair wonderfully with wine. Chef Harry Dodson’s food is refined, plated with artistic style, and some of the tastiest I have eaten this year. Hands down best eggplant dish I have eaten this year and the meatballs were on another level. James called them “the best meatballs I have eaten” – it doesn’t get much better than that!
WHAT WE DEVOURED:
- DUCK PATE w/ berkelo sourdough
- GRILLED HALLOUMI w/ honey, mint & lemon
- SAFFRON & CHEESE ARANCINI w/ citrus aioli (2)
- SALT COD CROQUETTE w/ tarter (2)
- ZAATAR SPICED BABY EGGPLANT w/ labneh, pomegranate, preserved lemon & dukkah
- BAKED GNOCCHI w/ wild mushroom, taleggio & berkelo sourdough
- PORK MEATBALLS in rich tomato sauce w/ berkelo sourdough
- BROWNIE w/ salted caramel, banana peanut praline and vanilla bean ice cream
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
We ate a lot, walking out of the venue after was difficult haha. But my god it was a wonderful full pain to deal with. Every bit of the food scores full marks.
We commenced with the duck pate, it was light and delicious and the perfect starter with our Pinot Grigio. The wine also loved being drank with the halloumi – honey, mint and lemon was a wonderful sweet and tart addition to the best cheese of all time. The arancini and croquettes looked incredibly similar – the cheesiness of the arancini was wonderfully cut through by the citrus and I was in bliss at the cheese pulls we got from these marvels. The croquettes made up with lack of cheese pull with wonderful soft textures and subtle flavours. I could have had a dozen of these.
On arrival the eggplant took my breath away, the Middle Eastern flavours elevated this dish to perfection and the colours were so bold – it was like a canvas of food. I don’t know what it is but I never order eggplant, if it comes to the table I always enjoy it – and this is one of the best – the little pops of pomegranate made me squeal in delight.
Then came out the two dishes that more resembled heavier “main” dishes – the baked gnocchi and the meatballs. The gnocchi bubbled for about 5mins – it was so hot – and just OMG so delicious and creamy – dipping the bread into the sauce was a tasty treat that added a layer of joy to my waistline. And the meatballs – just WOW – so soft and tender with pork flavours pairing with the epic tomato based sauce. A sprinkling of parmesan on top with some herb garnish just finished it off nicely. James is returning here purely to take his parents to eat this dish and I am returning here with my own parents for the entire food menu.
But wait, there’s more – by this stage I was struggling to breathe, the belt was undone and I was delirious in culinary delight. The wine probably helped a bit here. But Chef suggested the Brownie for dessert and so we had to oblige and not be rude. One of the best brownies I have had in recent times. The salted caramel was wonderful and the banana peanut praline and vanilla ice cream made my knees wobble more than my post meal obesity! Will have this one again.
Paddock and Vine is a Mona Vale gem. Nuanced share food that blew the mind. We think the wine list could do with some improvements and additions but what we guzzled was a fantastic match for our meal. A wonderful experience people on the Northern Beaches will enjoy – I cannot wait to return in warmer months.
SCORE BREAKDOWN: 3/3 food, 2/2 service, 0/1 drinks, 1/1 venue & ambience, 1/1 cost, 1/1 toilets and 0/1 bonus
PADDOCK AND VINE DEETS:
PH: (02) 9999 3807
Shop 8 – 1/5 Bungan St, Mona Vale NSW 2103
PRICING: The Sirloin is the most expensive dish at $34.50
Tue & Wed: 5 – 10pm
Thur to Sat: 5 – 11pm
Sun: 2 – 8pm
LOCAL DELIVERY: No
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes – minimal
GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS: Yes – minimal
KID FRIENDLY: Not Really
For more reviews of Sydney Northern Beaches Restaurants – check them out HERE