PARLOUR WINE ROOM was a recommendation from the lovely manager at Palace Electric Cinema. I was there for the week servicing their projection equipment and was going to catch up with the Canberra besties, the Schmolinghams, this sounded incredible as it combined my favourite items, pork belly and wine. Booked a table, headed in, was impressed beyond belief, had a sublime evening at a superb venue. Out of all the venues I have visited in Canberra, this is, hands down, my favourite venue that I will be attending many more times.
Set in the historic Hotel Acton / New Acton Pavillion, Parlour Wine Room has all the ingredients of another, much older era. This is actually Parlour Wine Room Mark 2 – the first one burnt down sadly due to a fire in the next door pizza venue and the post-fire renovations and decor are stunning, imagine a wealthy saloon from the 30s, then combine it with modern Canberra elite cultured meals, wines and patrons and you get the picture. The venue is HUGE – I only went indoors for the facilities and to pay and the inside is just stunning – but the venue is much more than just Parlour, to get to the facilities you wander downstairs throughout A.Baker – now I could be getting this wrong as I am not a local but Parlour is set in the redone burnt out shell of the fire caused by a pizza shop next door, if you head downstairs you not only go past A.Baker’s bakery, yep, on the staircase, they make all the A.Baker breakfast treats and bread and the smell during the morning permeating up that staircase must be insane.
You then come across the basement bar, an intimate classy quiet bar for about 50 people serving high end alcohol and encouraging a more discussion styled drinking – no doof doof or dance floor.
I am quite certain Parlour and A.Baker are quite separate but share a building and I LOVE IT ALL!!!
The food and wine is the crowning glory of this venue and this is due to the amazing wine selections and morsels from head sommelier, Peter Bell, and head chef, James Forman, managed splendidly by two young women, Parlour Wine Room owner, Bria Sydney, and general manager, Abby Clarke, who have set up one of the best restaurants and venues in the Capital. I cheer them.
We sat outside on a sprawling terrace in a comfy corner-like lounging area still suitable to eat from the table. Everything about this place just buzzes welcome, we did a weeknight dinner but I can only imagine how awesome a Sunday lunch would be in the sun. The venue is lightly Spanish inspired fusion with a lean towards tapas and share items. They have nice seafoods served in a tin and two awesome choices of oysters, your natural and then your Riesling & Elderflower granita oysters with finger lime pearls. Alas these will be tasted on the next visit. We selected our food, got a recommended wine to match then enjoyed cheese and aperitifs for dessert – do not go here for a cheap eat – you go here for pure decadence in a stunning venue with good friends.
Our waiter was knowledgable but we all thought a little over-enthusiastic and over-complimenting on everything. I was happy for over-enthusiasm as opposed to non-caring annoying ignorance and avoidance. We did have a slight issue with a forgotten delivered dish but while the food came out in the wrong order due to the forgotten tapas the taste and flavours of the dishes were all worth it.
We started with The Charcuterie Board with caper berries ($22) – it included pork shoulder and paprika, smoked and air dried beef rump, pepper and pork cured sausage and cured pork leg. HEAVEN! We also enjoyed the Fried Break O’Day Zucchini flower, ricotta, mojo picon ($8ea). I liked they were an “each” item – being three of us on these dishes I did not have to stab the Schmolinghams for the extra. We then foodgasmed over the most superb pork belly I have had in a VERY long time, Twice cooked crispy pork belly, PX glaze, fried onions, hazelnuts ($19 for 4) – it is here I offer high praise to the Schmolinghams, they told me to have the forth piece of this – something I will be forever be grateful for. On top of this was the Beetroot & fennel cured Tasmanian salmon, horseradish, local creme fraiche ($19 for 4).
The food is exquisite with perfect flavour combinations and balance, I could live on the food from this place. But the food isn’t even the major draw card for the venue!! The wine is out of this world, with a broad selection of both international and local wines – I always stay local, the Australian wines are the best in the world. I am pretty sure I ordered the Double Love Trouble by Some Young Punks Nebbiolo, Cabernet, 2013, Mclaren Vale ($50) – I love McLaren Vale and will always select it – I am unsure of what the Schmolinghams ordered for their turn. Now while the food and the wines are out of this world………………
My Hennessey V.S. Cognac ($10) and Mr Schmolingham’s Glenmorangie ‘The Original’ 40% Whiskey ($12) were just heavenly, unsure what Mrs Schmolingham partook in but we all matched it with their divine cheese plate. I think all up we spent about $250- on the evening, which, considering the decadence and unmatched culinary bliss of the evening, was worth every cent.
Score: Service 4.5 spoons, Food 5 spoons, Cost 5 spoons and Venue, 5 spoons. Total………………….