The Dolphin Wine Room

Bars, Wine bars Surry Hills
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The Dolphin Wine Room
Photograph: Anna Kucera

They’ve got guaranteed good times in the fridges of this wine bar inside a pub

Last year was when venue definitions got very squiggly. Old watering holes became fine dining restaurants that still had a public bar with beers on tap; restaurants opened great bars inside their venues so that you could just pop in for a drink; and bars installed amazing kitchens so that you’d stay for dinner. One of the best examples of these shifting boundaries was the redux Dolphin Hotel. Under the watchful eye of Maurice Terzini (Icebergs Dining Room and Bar) it transformed from a league’n’lager pub into a casual fashion party with an Italian dining room and an exciting new wine bar all inside its walls.

The Dolphin Wine Room is a long, narrow slice of the venue and once you tuck yourself into one of the tables along the wall or up at the bar, prepare to go home with an empty wallet and full to bursting with vinous delights. This is the kind of place that can turn your whole understanding of wine upside down by pouring you a Chilean skin-contact muscat that’s as savoury as an antipasto board.

Behind the bar is a wall of fridges with small doors so that it resembles a 16-day advent calendar, but instead of shit chocolate you get a whole lot of crazy, interesting, fun and smashable wine. A glass of the Latta Vino pinot looks like mulberry suede and is juicy, fresh and dangerously easy to drink. And you should definitely order the Lucky You French sauv blanc. It’s nothing like those acidic, citrusy New Zealand versions – this one is gentle but made with 20 per cent whole bunch grapes to give it just a little grip. The result is soft, elegant and easy.

At the end of the bar is the salumi cabinet and no visit is complete without a plate of sweet, nutty salami, spiked with black pepper. The daily bruschetta on our visit is juicy ripe tomatoes that carry the flavour of summer sun with them, mixed with an airy goats cheese and seaweed sprinkles for a savoury anchor. 

By: Emily Lloyd-Tait


Venue name: The Dolphin Wine Room
Address: 412 Crown St
Opening hours: Mon-Thu 5pm-late; Fri-Sun noon-late

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