Quick! How many city venues can you think of which can cater to work catchups, functions during the week and be a weekend kid-friendly pub option? The answer is the beautifully and thoughtfully designed Darling Pavilion gastropub, just across from the ICC for pre-show dinners and the best kid’s playground around.
Whilst this Mediterranean palazzo style venue can accommodate up to 350 people it feels beautifully light and airy with lots of cream, gold and wood tones. It is cleverly designed not to feel as large as it is. It has a gorgeous showstopper of a bar, where all your favourite cocktails can be shaken and beers poured. An extra shout out to the bougie bathrooms with each stall feeling like it’s own private powder room.
So, this is not your typical gastropub venue and honestly, we are here for its casual luxe Euro vibe. The menu reflects this spirit where you can find your typical pub options but with a Mediterranean twist and some innovation applied to your usual favourites. Plus, there are priced well priced cocktail options, frosty beers as well as an approachable wine list.
We started with the parmesan crumbed Artichokes which are served as generous cutlets with zesty aioli and plenty of shredded parmesan – they are fantastic. Next up is the Fried Baby Calamari with roasted lemon and served with smoked paprika lime aioli. The Roasted Cauliflower hummus is a standout with sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and pine nuts. Given it is cauli-based, it is slightly sweeter than a typical hummus and it is served with plenty of pita to pair it with. The Seared Scallops with pea and bacon are elegantly plated with garlic crumb and mint oil.
For mains, we go off piste and rather than ordering a Classic Burger, we chose the Soft Shell Crab which is served in a panini style roll with crisp fries and delivered a summery Mexicali vibe with corn and peppers salsa. Yummo!
One of their signature dishes is the slow cooked Braised lamb shank. This is slow cooked, then finished in the Beech oven specially brought down from QLD (one of only two in Sydney, btw!) that can cook up to 400 degrees. This enables the lamb to be produced as a dry dish with a crust which makes for a lovely presentation along with a sensational light jus. Finally, we had the Lemon and Yoghurt Cake which is served with orange curd, cream and broken almond brittle scattered over the plate. Wow! This dessert is definitely punching above it’s weight for the usual gastropub fare.
We suggest that you oooze into a cream semi-circular booth and settle in for a lazy (weekday or weekend) catchup and soak up the atmosphere as you while away a sunny afternoon for an elevated pub experience. And for those who aren’t yet ready to leave when the sun goes down, there is live music and beats for those who want to kick on!
Darling Pavilion, 25 Harbour St, Darling Pavilion
Open: Daily from 10am to 1am