412 Crown Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
+61 2 9331 4800
My friendship network seems to be divided into three groups: those who love natural wine, those who refuse to drink natural wine and those who think anyone who drinks wines are wankers (‘gimme a beer’). I, for one, am loving natural wines and Sydney’s gorgeous summer days are conducive to those lovely opaque bottles of goodness.
When we heard that Icebergs’ Maurice Terzini took over The Dolphin Hotel last year and ramping up the food and wine offerings, we were interested. And when we heard that the hotel’s Wine Room had a wine list curated by James Hird (From Icebergs not Essendon, obviously), we knew we had to visit.
The venue is divided into three sections: the Dining Room, Public Bar and Wine Room. When Bean and I arrived, we were kind of overwhelmed. We liked the Dining Room menu with the now famous Dolphin Hotel pizzas, but we also wanted to explore the more extensive wine list in the Wine Room. Oh, and the pub grub they were serving in the Public Bar sounded delicious too. The guy behind the bar saw us looking confused and he helpfully suggested that we dine at the Wine Room and he will bring over the Dining Room menu. Awesome, sorted.
We started off with a glass of wine each (French rosé for me and a red for Bean) and shared an entrée of squid ink battered calamari, one of the specials for the day. Although you couldn’t really taste the squid ink, the batter was lightly and crispy.
We then shared two mains: a Salumi Anton pizza and the orecchiette with spring lamb (even though it was well into summer and Christmas party season). I’ve heard so many good things about the pizzas at The Dolphin so I was really excited to try them. The dough, in particular, was meant to be spectacular and given that the dough’s ingredients list read like a Bondi Hipsters song, I expected to be wowed: organic flour, 48-hour fermentation, Olssons sea salt and ALTO extra virgin olive oil and filtered water, topped with sustainably grown tomatoes from New South Wales.
Unfortunately, they weren’t to my liking. Yes, I know that the pizza dough is meant to be Northern-style i.e. crispy rather than fluffy but the pizza was rock hard, flat and devoid of any texture. I immediately thought back to those $5 frozen pizzas you get at Woolworths. As for the topping, perhaps we made a bad choice by going for the one with pineapple. Yes, PINEAPPLE. The Salumi Anton came with Berkshire leg ham, pancetta, smoked pineapple and mozzarella – essentially a fancy Hawaiian pizza. What I liked about the pizza was that they used pineapple jam rather than pineapple pieces; as a result, the pineapple taste was subtle. Everything else, however… meh.
It’s a shame our Dolphin Hotel experience was nowhere near as amazing as everyone’s else’s. Maybe we came on a bad day – it was, after all, Christmas party season. Maybe we ordered from the wrong menu. Maybe the Italian pizza gods were punishing us for ordering a pizza with pineapple on it. It’s a real shame because we enjoyed exploring the wine list (we ended up having another glass each), but the food was enough for us not go back for a meal.