Do you remember that little alley off Macleay Street? That was just waiting for the Harris Farm salvation? Well, consider it redeemed and resurrected! Gone are the adult bookshops, pawnbrokers, fetish joints of the notorious Kings Cross past, and in their place have sprung a series of cool little restaurants, a very posh looking hairdresser (fluro green lighting at night time) and a trés chic art gallery. It feels a little cosmopolitan, european even – God Forbid!
LL Wine & Dine is run by the Barge Brothers three, who have done a splendid job of re-inventing this rather alluring food and wine bar. Positioned along the pedestrian only Llankelly Place, LL Wine & Dine glows like a brothel’s front door. It really does croon “Come and get me!” in a hooker’s sultry tone, and, well…, we’re happy to oblige.
We arrive late and are seated at the last remaining outdoor table, under two bright red umbrellas and surrounded by a red picket fence. White might just have been a touch too pristine for this neighbourhood. A very cheerful waitress hands us the menu and we are immediately captivated by the cocktail list which reads like a drug dealer’s little black book. Ecstasy, Red Blossom, The Swinger, Dragon’s Eye… and there’s more. Oscar goes for the Ecstasy ($16) (naturally) and I plump for the Dragon’s Eye ($16) (am drawn to dragon’s this year). The Dragon’s Eye is a heady mixture of 42 Below Vodka, raspberries, chilli, corriander and peach liquor, served with a lychee and a sprig of mint. It’s refreshing to start but has a heated chilli finish – I love it!
We order the Crunchy White Bait with fried chilli and corriander ($12), the Pork and Prawn Wonton with silky egg and aged vinegar dressing ($16), the Crispy Confit Duck Pancakes ($29) and a Wakami & Tofu Salad ($12). We’ve also finished our cocktails, so we order the Argentinean Rio Mendoza Malbec 2009 ($39) – lucky I’m not driving.
The White Bait, served in a Chinese (?) newspaper, is crunchy, very tasty and we manage to pick up every tiny crumb with our chopsticks. The Pork and Prawn Wontons are delicious and silky, although I feel the sauce might have been slightly overpowering.
The Wakami Salad is delicious as you would expect but the Crispy Confit Duck Pancakes don’t reach our high expectations. The duck is a little dry and crumbly, though the pancakes themselves, are perfect and the orange sauce that accompanies, is divine.
We don’t need any more to eat, but a glance at the dessert menu and Oscar is smitten by the Sugar-coated, mango jam filled Doughnut Balls ($14). They arrive wrapped in a brown paper bag (which is torn open at the table), with a side of passionfruit sorbet. They are like little puff balls of HEAVEN! I contemplate whose side of the fence they truly fall on (God’s or Satan’s), but I stuff them in my mouth regardless of who now owns the larger portion of my soul.
The building itself has a rather salacious past, at various stages hosting an adult book shop, an illegal gambling den and a fetish house. If only these walls could talk…
In a nod to the history of the building and indeed, to the area generally, the Barge Brothers have retained some of the existing features. Vintage porn magazines that they found stashed in the above ceiling have been converted to porn wallpaper. Hilarious! (You can see the wall paper on the second image) And if you look really closely on the ceiling of the bottom private dining room, you can still see the hooks used during fetish play. Yikes!
The feel overall is that of a Hong Kong high roller’s room. Plush reds and asiatic screens abound, paired with rich dark timbers on the floor and soft sultry glowing lights. Perfect for that prim date who hasn’t got the idea yet. **hint hint**
So if you fancy your dinner or drinks on the wilder, more exotic side of things, LL Wine & Dine is the place to please.
LOVIN’:The Doughnuts!! And super friendly staff.
NOT LOVIN’: ??
BRING: Your girlfriends, man-friends, a date at any stage, probably not large groups.
HOW MUCH: $$$$$
WHERE: 42 Llankelly Place, Potts Point 2011
WHEN: Tues – Wed 5:30pm – 11pm; Thurs – Sat noon – Late; Sun 11am – 10pm
CONTACT: (02) 9356 8393