For a little over ten years, the Victoria Room in Darlinghurst has charmed patrons with its old world style and Mediterranean-inspired menu. But it was time to embrace change.
The New Victoria Room, Darlinghurst
Gone is the British Raj look and the partitions that gave the venue a cosy ambience. The Victoria Room now wears dark wood and deep navy tones, crisp white tablecloths, chandeliers and luxurious lounge areas reminiscent of some of the grand hotels in Europe. The space is now more open and inviting while still retaining the romance and charm of another era.The new look, described as having masculine shades is the work of interior designer Blainey North.
The refurbishment comes from the new owners Mike and Dea Manassen who have enlisted a new head chef, Samuel Cheetham whose experience includes Chez Bruce in London, Becasse and Quarter Twenty One in Sydney.
The new menu consist of entirely of dishes that are meant to be shared, a concept that seems at odds with the opulent surrounds and intimate setting. It was designed to appeal to a group experience, to make dining more fun and less of a rigid experience, Mike Manassen explains.
The dinner menu consists of three sections, with the dishes increasing in size. There is emphasis on seasonal produce as well as seafood and modern Australian influences.
Prawn, Spanner Crab, Grapefruit & Spring Onion Lettuce Cups
The Prawn, Spanner Crab, Grapefruit & Spring Onion Lettuce Cups ($12 for 2) reminds you that despite your elegant surrounds, the food is meant to be approachable. You pick up the lettuce cup by hand and enjoy the fresh seafood flavours with a citrus zing even if it dribbles on your plate.
The Zucchini Flowers ($4 each) are encased in a crisp, seasoned batter hiding melted ricotta with pine nuts, raisins and honey. The sweetness of the latter goes well with the tang of the cheese and makes these tasty morsels very moreish.
Mahi Mahi and Scallop
The lime-marinated Mahi Mahi ($19) is a delight. The fish has a good measure of black pepper for bite and the scallop is tender and full of flavour complemented with the lime and avocado. This is a dish you want to savour on your own.
Slow Roast Pork Belly
From the “main course” style of dishes comes the Slow Roast Pork Belly with Sweet Mustard Glaze ($28). Five slices of pork belly in sweet sauce are presented on their lonesome. Sweet and succulent, the pork belly is perfectly cooked and the crispy crackling has a lovely sweetness and saltiness. The dish could do with accompanying vegetables.
Lamb Loin with Smoked Eggplant
The next dish plays on Middle Eastern flavours and does it very well. The Lamb Loin ($32) is perfectly cooked, pink and succulent, and works well with the smoked eggplant, burnt onions and labne. A scattering of cooked barley completes the dish.
For a light, fruity dessert, the Mascarpone Mousseline with Verbena and Berry Granita ($16) hits the right spot. It’s neither too sweet or tart, and the pieces of burnt butter biscuit add a lovely texture.
Chocolate, Wattleseed & Hazelnut Pave
If you’re a chocoholic, the Chocolate, Wattleseed and Hazelnut Slice ($19) is a must. Rich in chocolate flavour, creamy and light in texture on a crunchy hazelnut base with coffee and cream, this dessert is testament for share plates.
Other dessert choice include a selection of sweet snacks, bites and nibbles to share ($24) that go well with tea and coffee. You’ll get a tasting plate of salted caramel chocolate cup, Turkish delight, Rocky road and vienna almonds. A selection of local and imported cheeses with Lavosh and muscatels ($28 for 4 pieces) is also available.
A visit to the Victoria Room is not complete without enjoying cocktails at the bar or on the plush lounges. The cocktail menu is extensive and boats six collections to please all including Teetotallers. “The bar team had input into the drinks,” Luke Hanzlicek, Bar Manager explains. For example, Yoshi’s Flip, known as Green Eggs and Ham ($19) has proven very popular with a mix of Green Chartreuse, Mozart Black Chocolate liqueur, vanilla syrup, chocolate bitters and a whole egg finished with roasted ground wattle seed and mint.
The cocktail list is divided into The Alfresco Collection designed for pre-dinner with its lighter style or with high tea. The ‘Any Excuse’ Collection is suitable for any time of the day. The Evening Collection becomes more boozy and The Doc’s Collection with Bach Flower remedies include the famous Penicillin, created by renowned bartender Sam Ross.
Luke Hanzlicek with La Sainte Trinité Cocktails
It is the Chevalier’s Collection that intrigues and appeals. Bar Manager Luke Hanzlicek is a Chartreuse Chevalier, and the collection includes five drinks based on the herbaceous spirit. La Sainte Trinité / The Holy Trinity ($21) is the perfect boozy, dry and digestive cocktail with herbaceous notes with which to round off the experience. Tariquet Folle Blanche Armagnac, Green Chartreuse and Dolin Vermouth are stirred with strips of lemon peel, served Martini style and garnished with black grapes. This is a cocktail not to be shared.
The new Victoria Room is not simply a makeover of an old favourite. The style of the venue has been designed to be open, welcoming and to suit small groups as well as couples while retaining its female-friendly status. The new cocktail list is what you would expect from Hanzlicek and his team, well-crafted and covering a spectrum of tastes whether you’re after something light or with more robust spirit flavours. Cheetham’s dinner menu has broad appeal, and while the share plate concept in romantic surrounds takes a little getting used to, the flavours and the produce are what the food is about.
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The Victoria Room is featured in our guide to Sydney’s Best Romantic Restaurants.
The Victoria Room
1/235 Victoria St
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
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