91 Crown Lane
Darlinghurst, NSW 2010
One good thing about Covid – hold on, hear me out here – is the fact that restaurants that never used to take bookings are now pretty much forced to do so. I’m usually pretty resigned to having to show up to a restaurant early and still run the risk of not getting a table, but frankly Sydney is a such a pain to get around compared to Melbourne that I’m much less keen to make that gamble. And that is also pretty much the reason I’ve never visited Love, Tilly Devine up until now, despite it being exactly the kind of wine bar I love and miss so much.
After making a booking online for their $50 feed me menu, I rocked up at Tilly Devine to find the absolute cosiest little European-styled wine bar, complete with a rustic open kitchen that had shiny copper pans hanging from the ceiling.
Tilly Devine isn’t a wine bar for nothing, and with over 400 different types listed in the heavy leather-bound tome, all but the most hardcore of wine enthusiasts will have their work cut out for them. Thankfully the staff know this, and are more than happy to guide you towards a bottle (or three) that tickles your fancy. Luckily I’m almost exclusively a vermouth girl, and with only 3 types offered by the glass, it was fairly easy to decide on the Maidenli ($9/glass), a Victorian brew that emphasised a sharp, herbaceous eucalyptus on a background of warmer, sweeter spices.
The first course of the day was the Burrata, Carrot XO, served with Iggy’s Sourdough. I’ve had enough mediocre breads in my time to be glad of one that is truly worth paying for, and this one ticked all the boxes – soft, slightly doughy middle, a crust that’s crisp but not tough, and a rich, yeasty aroma.
But the star was without a doubt the burrata. The combination of creamy, stretchy cheese and the salt and umami-laden carrot puree may have been unconventional, but also unbelievably delicious. As they put it on their Instagram, it’s the snack you never knew you needed.
The main course for the day was Kingfish, Macadamia, and Broccoli Stem. Pan-fried for a crispy skin, the kingfish was firm but light, with enough body to cope with the rich, nutty macadamia puree. It may have been a small serve, but it was incredibly rich and satisfying, with just a hint of tanginess in the sauce to keep it from being cloying.
To pad things out (or in my case, to slather in the macadamia sauce) sauce was a dish of Confit Kipfler Potatoes, served fluffy and golden with a sprinkling of saltbush.
Dessert was Cheese and Condiments, which to my chagrin only came with a single cheese and some rather run-of-the-mill crackers. Still, they chose well, and the Chevre from Holy Goat was mild and creamy – the ideal dessert cheese when eaten with cranberry jam.
So all up, this was a pretty good meal. But I have to admit that I have some mixed feelings about Tilly Devine. Or rather, I have one main gripe, and it’s how tiny the portions were. I know things in Sydney don’t come cheap, but given that there was no other food available to order, I’d expect to be at least adequately fed by the feed-me menu, even if it’s just padded out with carbs. And whilst the richness of the meal was enough to tide me over for the time being, I ended up needing more food a couple hours later. I’m still definitely keen to come back to try their a la carte menu (which is currently only available between 4-6pm); at least that way I can order as much food as I need.
Rating: 13.5/20 – like, tilly devine.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.