The bistro at Broadway's grand old dame, The Lansdowne Hotel has received a bit of a makeover. Both the menu and fit out have been revamped since a fire gutted the place earlier this year. Befittingly the new bistro has been named The Phoenix Diner.
The last time I was at The Lansdowne for a meal was on a very bad date. Halfway through our lunch I knew that this guy was not the one for me when he declared that he liked to drink his coffee in the mornings whilst ON THE TOILET! Think about it for a minute...yep, gross right? Sadly not even a fire can burn that image from my memory -- but my dinner date this time round, Bunny, had no such confessions and a lovely evening was had by all.
The Lansdowne is still primarily a student hangout and things haven't changed too much since it's rebirth. The pub still retains its vibe as a great live music venue and thankfully it's not been changed beyond recognition by its makeover like so many great old Sydney pubs.
The menu at The Phoenix Diner is all new however, with a learning towards modern American diner-style offerings. Everything looks great, but we couldn't make our way past all the great things the SNACKS section of the menu had to offer - so snacks for dinner it was!
We start of with something quite un-American Biltong Jerky ($3.00) - nice and peppery without being too dried. An interesting dish to find on a bistro menu, but a delicious one. This would be a great snack with a nice cold beer.
Both Bunny and I LOVED the stuffed Jalapeno poppers ( $6.00) that came to the table pipping hot and filled to the brim with with luscious creamy cream cheese and bacon. The poppers came with a side of garlic aoili and a few shreds of rocket to divert us from the fact the poppers came deep-fried and looked more like a mini Dagwood Dog than a Jalapeno pepper. I've not seen a battered popper before, but I have to say it works - it would work a treat with an icy beer (are you sensing a theme re the "ice cold beer" here)?
I was so excited about the basket of Buffalo Wings ( $12.00) when they arrived that I promptly upended the bowl of blue cheese sauce on the table. IDIOT! Not to worry as we scrapped most of it back into the bowl and happily dipped away - three second rule definitely applies to blue cheese sauce! The wings were good - super crispy on the outside with the meat inside still being tender and moist. Again the token green, celery, diverts us from the fact that this chicken is deep-fried.
Next up is a red basket lined with greaseproof paper and a mountain of nachos. For me, the 12 hour slow roasted pull pork nachos ($15.00), whilst a generous serve, was missing the heady smokiness that pulled pork should have - I've been spoiled by Smokey O I think. The nachos come topped with oodles of melted cheese, fresh guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo - it's a colourful looking dish.
Last but not least comes a serve of Mac + Cheese Bites ($9.00). These little morsels of cheesy heaven come topped with Parmesan and watercress and they are perfectly bite-sized - one bite and they're gone. I like that these bites weren't too big - a basket of these would be perfect for sharing if you just want something small and snacky. There are lots of "not deep-fried food" on the menu, honestly - we just didn't quite get there on this visit.
The Phoenix Diner is a fun rebirth of an old pub bistro and a great spot for a bite between classes if you study nearby...or perhaps a Friday lunch if you work in the 'hood.
The Phoenix Diner is on Level 2 of The Lansdowne Hotel, 2-6 City Road, Chippendale. Phone them on 8218 2333.