As soon as I heard this bar was opening, the lyrics from the famous ‘50’s Latin mambo song sprung to mind. “No-one cares how late it gets- Ole! Hernando’s Hideaway”. Tucked away, deliberately behind Plimmer Steps, you are definitely hidden. Formerly the Bull and Bear, it has been transformed into a dark, bar/restaurant with a contemporary menu which has a twist on old classics. There is a pool table and some pokie machines, and although I’m not a fan of either, you don’t notice them.
You can perch at the bar and watch the mixologists at play or take a table or red leather booth. You know how I love booths right?
It did take a wee while to get a drink until owner/operator Vincent Lombino took great care of us. The boys started out with some beers, and I has a glass of Treviso Prosecco to celebrate my Italian heritage. ‘Squealing Pig’ pinot noir was on the spit, so our next choice was Nevis Buff from Otago, which was great. The separate cocktail menu was inviting but we had to do a rain check.
I didn’t even get a chance to peruse the new menu as I was interrupted by the moans from my shortsighted friends, about the small menu font. Vincent apologised saying it was something they were working on and he offered to bring us some recommended, shared dishes. “Brilliant” we said, “Bring it on”! Our very own degustation.
We started out with a swine board which was a fab selection of pork loin, crumbed jowl, blood pudding and something else pork related. It was really rich but delicious and we became full quickly. Then came the buttermilk chicken with habanero dressing, some warm smoked salmon with beetroot and some roast lamb rump with white bean skordalia, roast apricot and almond crumbs. This is top notch dining here folks and at reasonable prices.
But wait there’s more. I noticed that my skinny jeans were now getting uncomfortably fat and then a grass-fed beef dish arrived with carrot, coffee and fennel. This was sensational, and served with amazing condiments, plus accompanied by a refreshing shaved courgette salad with mint, pine nuts and lemon and a fresh bean salad with ricotta, radish, chilli, parsley and lemon. Please sir can we NOT have some more.
We thought we’d finished but the final piece de la resistance arrived; pecan pie with apple curd, white chocolate and hokey pokey. You know I can’t normally fit dessert in, but I just dove in. The boys had done their dash so it was left to the girls, and I think I ate most of it. We waddled out some time later and although so stuffed, it gave us an appetite to come back to try more another time.