In Short: Paddock & Vine is a Wine and Tapas bar that focuses on serving good European and Australian cuisine. It’s a cosy and relaxing place. Come for the food, but definitely stay for the wine.
While Mona Vale is more known for its beaches, more and more we are observing a food culture developing here, with an emphasis on quality food. It is one of our favourite places to hang out because there is so much to do there, and there is a good mix of people of all ages, just chilling and hanging out at local establishments. Tucked away along the row of shops on Bungan Street is a dining gem, Paddock and Vine, that is owned and operated by locals Johnny Tavernese and Chef Harry Dodson. This is their third food business foray on the northern beaches, which has included the immensely popular Smalltown, so you can be assured they know the locals, and they know what they like to eat!
Paddock & Vine is a measured dining experience that fuses chic cuisine, with the ambience of a wine bar. Their food offering leans on wholesome home-cooked style, Mediterranean inspired food. On the wine front, while the initial focus was on big wine regions of the world, it’s really evolved into showcasing quality offerings from boutique wineries spanning our great continent.
The place is cosy, and the owners have managed to maximise the space effectively with their choice of deco and layout. The theme of the place is chic and relaxed, with distressed pillars and walls decorated with eclectic art pieces, lots of wood panels, padded blue banquettes booths and soft lights with a great acoustic sound setup. Running across the inside of the restaurant is a well-stocked bar counter with a wide array of drink options. In fact, there are so many wine choices that the back wall of the restaurant has also been converted to a wine case to showcase all the wines.
An example of a more regional focus of Paddock & Vine’s wine offerings was what was served with our meal. I was served a glass of Patina Riesling 2016 from Orange NSW, our favourite New South Wales food and wine region. Made by winemaker Gerald Naef, this wine features fruit grown in volcanic soil slopes of Mt Canobolas. Because of its excellent growing condition and cool climate weather, the end result is a fruity and floral wine with a citrus finish. The sweet mellow flavours of the wine are refreshing and delicious, and it is a prime example of excellent wine hailing from the central slopes of New South Wales.
From the food entrée section, Harry started us off with a Middle Eastern flavoured Flatbread & Hommus. Don’t let the simple description fool you, as what we got was a delicious warm and crusty homemade charcoal flatbread, with flavours that were not too overpowering, paired with a plate of beautiful chickpea hommus. Usually, the words ‘beautiful’ and ‘hommus’ rarely appear in a sentence together, but Harry has managed to make his chickpea hommus not just look pretty, but taste really good as well. The difference is the addition of crispy pieces of chickpeas which added a good crunch factor and texture to the smooth creamy, smoky hommus. It also had good flavour from the olive oil used. In fact, it was one of my favourite dishes of the day and I was whispering to Sacha that I would happily have a serve of those Middle Eastern flavours any day of the week!
Next up, we were presented with Italian inspired Pork Meatballs cooked in a rich, tomato sauce with herbs and parmesan. The flavours were rustic and wholesome, and would probably get the seal of approval from a true Italian as well! The meatballs were tender, juicy and cooked to perfection that they break apart easily. I quizzed Johnny as to how could meatballs be so tender, he could only respond with a cheeky smile. I took that as a cue of a house secret. The rich meaty flavours mixed with the luxurious tomato sauce made this a dish a hit with little Coco and Viner Sammi, as well as Sacha. Just to make sure that none of the beautiful sauce goes to waste, this dish also comes with a slice of sourdough toast from leading local sourdough bread maker, Berkelo. The bread was so good, that we ventured back to Berkelo to stock up on a loaf for ourselves!
If you are after something healthy and light, we would recommend the modern Australian inspired dish, Grilled Broccolini with Cauliflower and Almond Puree and Herb. This dish is gluten free and dairy free. Broccolini stalks and whole florets of cauliflower are grilled to perfection and served on a bed of hommus with toasted almond and pesto nuts. The charring of the vegetables gives it a depth of lovely flavour and together with the hommus, it was a great and enjoyable dish.
Many people say that “Italian food is one the best cuisines in the world” and I have to say that the statement is especially true when it involves a good pasta dish. Paddock & Vine has a fantastic Italian pasta dish in the form of their Fresh Egg Fettucine in a Beef Cheek Ragu. The rich egg pasta is sourced from Pastability and done al dente, while the sauce is rich and sweet with a great depth of flavour from the array of ingredients used to produce it, including the use of mushrooms and a great red wine. It is then slow cooked for many hours to ensure that maximum flavours are extracted from all the ingredients and imparted on to the sauce. The pasta and sauce together with a light sprinkling of parmesan, makes this a pasta that would have tick all the boxes from anyone craving for a good pasta feed. Here’s a tip, dine here during mid week, and you will get this plate of pure, rich goodness for $15. Bargain of the year!
Finally, no meal would be complete without a sweet treat, and our dessert of choice is Paddock & Vine’s Coconut & Caramel Flan with Charcoal Salt. It is a Mediterranean inspired dessert, but to me, this dessert also has an Asian hit as the syrup almost tasted like gula melaka. No matter what the inspiration, there is no denying that this is a stellar dessert. A smooth, milky flan forms the base, while coconut bits are soaked in a salted caramel sauce made from charcoal salt to give it a sweet, salty, and subtle smoky flavour. The syrup is then poured over the well set flan, creating distinct layers of colours and tastes. The dessert itself is served in an open jar. As we dug into the dessert with each spoonful, we got a harmonious blend of the smooth milky flan with the sweet caramel coconut syrup, that was just a match made in heaven. It is the perfect dessert to end a perfect meal experience at Paddock & Vine.
They say you can’t have it all, but when you have a beach, and great eateries like Paddock & Vine in the same area, it gets pretty close and fantastic place to spend an evening in.
*Coco and Vine dined as guests of Paddock & Vine. Photos and opnions are our own.