It’s an unassuming facade…. Certainly not somewhere that you’d normally think to see rich red velvet theatre curtains… And probably not somewhere where you’d expect to fall, Alice-in-Wonderland-like, to another world.
And let’s face it, the sunny Saturday afternoon that we swing by The Lodge, I’m pretty sure that Alice is looking much better than us. Oscar has just finished playing 90 mins of soccer against rival team Balmain, and I have just finished thrashing myself at a 7.445km (to be exact..!) run, that has left my face red and salty and my gluteus maximus, a little on the sore side… A very attractive pair. So it is with a little trepidation that we walk down the stairs and through the red stage curtains to the bar. We figure, we’ve done the hard yards, and that we deserve a beer, whatever we look like!
Thankfully the attractively 1950′s vintage-dressed girl behind the bar does not stare, but rather, cheerfully helps us with the beer menu. Oscar opts for the Fog City Cloudy (Apple) Cider ($10.50) and because I’m feeling virtuous and cleansed from all that running uphill, I go for the Mountain Goat Organic Steam Ale ($10) (yes… my previous life…).
The cider and the beer are lovely, my ale has a bitter full flavour, and is the perfect thirst quencher. Oscar’s cider is tart, crisp and refreshing – ‘delicious!’ is how he describes it. Perhaps beer is an unusual choice considering the 200 plus wine list, and the healthy display of whiskey and port behind the bar, but it’s what we need right now, and I have a feeling we’ll be back to try out the wines later.
The Lodge is yet another offering from the Ed Cutcliffe (Little Marionette) burgeoning empire. I chat to his sister Coeli and discover that it has taken some time to get this little wine bar through council – trust me, I understand!! If it was anything like my dealings with Leichhardt Council – they have done well to open at all!! But honestly, I am so glad that they have persevered.
This tiny little wine bar is all high timber ceilings, timber wall panels, leather banquettes and marble table tops. I can’t decide if it’s more Wild West Saloon or French style under-ground cafe….? Whatever it is, it’s certainly not what you’d expect off Darling Street, Balmain. It feels like something that you might meander unexpectedly into down in Melbourne. It’s atmospheric, a little moody and the perfect place to escape and hide away from the real world for a while.
It also has an outdoor seating area that is probably larger than inside (your link to the outside world). Perfect for the outdoor beer or summer chardy… and lush with outdoor shrubbery. (I have to apologise here, the above photo is terribly over exposed, but at least you get the idea of what the outdoor seating looks like..).
I love the clocks – there is one inside and one outside. The indoor one is my fave, although I’m not sure why we need two? To avoid clock envy? So we don’t madly hop around like the White Rabbit exclaiming that we are late??! Whatever the case, they certainly add a focal point to the room and I am all for them!
The Lodge has a regularly updated tapas style bar menu. On the day that we stop by there are Handcut Chips with Pecorino & Truffle Aioli ($7.50), Wagyu Rump with Potato & Bacon Gratin & Horseradish Creme Fraiche ($15.50) and a Banana, Dulce du Leche & Walnut Ice-Cream Sandwich ($8.50).
Honestly, we are both starving and would love to stay for longer, however, common decency prevents us from lingering too long in our sweaty sports gear and turning others off their meals. Much better to come back when we can sink back into those comfy leather chairs, share a nice red wine over twinkling candle-lights and spend time in Balmain’s Little Wonderland.
This is a great place to loose yourself for a few hours in another world.
LOVIN’: Dramatic red curtains and marble top tables.
NOT LOVIN’: ?
HOW MUCH: $$$$$
WHERE: 3/415 Darling Street, Balmain NSW 2041
WHEN: Mon – Sun: 4pm – 10pm
CONTACT: (02) 8084-2502
The Lodge FB page