City Beach eatery, Park and Vine, is found at the popular Empire Village shopping and dining precinct. The casual diner was opened by local Paulette Contessi last year, as a spot that locals would feel comfortable to ‘hang out’ at with some drinks and share food. Open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, we dine there on a midweek evening with our son, “Little Chef”. A waitress warmly greets us and we have the pick of the tables in the spacious restaurant which overlooks leafy Beecroft Park.
The modern Australian style menu is made up of share dishes and mains like an “old skool” burger, fish n chips and pasta. A children’s menu is full of good quality kid’s favourites. The family friendly restaurant has colouring in for the kids, giant jenga and board games – making meal times more engaging for kids and adults alike. The small wine list is made up of drops mainly from Australia and New Zealand. I enjoy a glass of NZ Satyr Sileni Pinot Gris which is full of stone fruit notes.
Before we order, the waitress advises us that the dish I am eyeing up, gnocchi with blistered tomatoes, is unavailable. Disappointing, though I am happy enough to pick the rosemary and garlic lamb rack with roast chat potato instead, as that sounds equally as mouth-watering. A few minutes after placing our orders another waitress returns, advising the lamb is also off the menu, due to supplier issues. Chef totally gets that. I choose fillet steak for my plan C. I’m not usually a steak eater when I dine out, but my menu choices are dwindling. We’re charged the price of the rack of lamb ($38), for the steak as way of compensation, which is a welcome gesture. In no time our share dishes arrive and I bite into the lightly battered salt and pepper squid ($15), my heart sinks a little, as I discover it’s chewy. It takes extra effort from my choppers to chew through the tentacles.
Chef enjoys three fish tacos ($16) doused in a tasty chipotle sauce. We agree more care should have been taken over the chunky mango salsa, with large pieces of red onion throughout.
We don’t hear a peep from Little Chef who is tucking into his kids cheese burger ($12) and rustic rosemary fries, so we know he’s enjoying his dinner.
Chef chooses a hearty winter dish of beef rib bourguignon ($34). The tender rib meat easily falls off the bone and is served with a creamy mash. The sauce has meaty depth of flavour and is brimming with carrots and celery.
I didn’t set out to have fillet steak ($42) for dinner, luckily it’s a tasty chunk of meat, cooked medium rare. On the side are crisp, diced garlic potatoes and brocollini.
By now it’s dark and this winter’s evening is getting chilly.
The restaurant’s bi-fold doors are still wide open. At this time of year we’d like to be sitting in a cosy restaurant.
Unfortunately, it makes us want to hurry dessert and bask in the heating in our car.
Chef’s dessert is a pretty apple tart ($14) with an apple rose baked into it. He pours the anglaise (light cooked custard) over the warm tart and there’s vanilla ice cream on the side.
Little Chef devours a generous serve of ice cream and sprinkles ($8).
A scrumptious dark chocolate and orange crème brulee ($14) is spot on. The dessert is topped with a layer of hard caramel and a silky smooth baked jaffa custard inside.
For the most part the food at Park and Vine is good. We do feel a little technique in the cooking is sometimes lacking. The service is friendly and kids are well catered for. It’s a spot to head to for a family dinner in the ‘burbs on those nights you don’t feel like cooking.
At a glance
■ Park and Vine
31 Gayton Road
Phone 9385 8991
■ Opening times
Monday to Sunday
7am till late
value for money 3
■ style – Modern Australian
■ wine – A small, mostly
Aussie offering. BYO Tues.
■ Chef – Joe Curtis
■ Owner – Paulette Contessi
■ feel – casual and approachable
■ wheelchair access – yes
■ cost –
Share $12 – $16
Mains – $17 to $42
Dessert – $9 to $14
■ all in all – a casual eatery
found at Empire Village.
Head there for a family brunch,
lunch or dinner.