As a post exam treat last semester, a friend and I ventured to Palings for lunch and a catch up, and discovered this hidden oasis!
The bar menu is kept nice and simple, with a few choice dishes, ranging from more casual to wholesome options. I ended up settling on the Cheese Toastie, with pyengana cheddar, leek confit, sourdough, endive and walnuts. The cheese was tasty and flavoursome, and the leek was fairly distinguishable, with the sourdough providing a nice crunchy texture that added to the dish and complemented the cheese. The side salad was also good, since it cut into the richness of the toastie and balanced the dish. I also had a bite of my friend’s dish, which was a Squid Roll with salt and pepper squid, radish, rocket and chilli aioli. It was a good, hearty serving, and the piece I tried was delicious, but a bit spicy, which I didn’t like.
I accompanied this with a lemon lime bitters, and this wasn’t as good as I was used to with a couple of the pubs around uni, which have really set the bar high with perfect drinks! He put the bitters in last, which definitely didn’t do the drink justice, and didn’t give it the color combination it usually has, with the dark orange bitters on the bottom and the white lemonade on top.
The whole ivy complex is cetered around a small Parisian style alleyway which boasts a range of fine dining restaurants on either side. We were truly spoilt for choice, but since Palings came recommended, we headed up the stairs to see what all the hype was about. The restaurant space was truly beautiful! Upon walking in, there was a small waterfall surrounding a spiral staircase, and the bar lined both sides of a sunlit courtyard. Lanterns were strung up from the open sky, and there was ample seating but the tables were packed due to the busy rush hour. Service was a bit slow, but the surrounds made up for it, and we stayed there chatting until well into the afternoon, since it was such a lovely setting!
I definitely enjoyed my meal, and would love to go back again to sample one of the other Merivale restuarants! A definite must, and very affordable for the calibre of food, with the toastie priced at $14 and the drink costing me $5. A whimsical, serene catch-up spot that is not to be missed!