Well, sort of. The current site of LL Wine and Dine in Potts Point’s Llankelly Place has been all of these things in its colourful past. But following the transformation of the pedestrian laneway in 2010, the whole alley has become a lot more welcoming and friendly, shall we say.
|The wall of... 'ecstasy' at LL Wine and Dine, Llankelly Place, Potts Point|
|The back rooms|
The hidden away, multi-level back section sheltered the illegal gamblers in the 1960s and other ‘interesting’ activities during the days of the adult book store.
|Down to the lower den|
It was here that 35 garbage bags filled with vintage pornography magazines were found – this heritage now plastered all over a doorway between the front and the back sections of the restaurant.
|Graffiti and that wall|
There is seating out on the pedestrian-only laneway in addition to the front restaurant and bar sections, and then of course the tiered back sections which would be oh-so-perfect for private functions.
|Sashimi nachos of kingfish and ocean trout with a spicy lime dressing, capsicum |
and corn salsa, avocado, sour cream, jalepenos and black caviar
The small cubes of both fish were pert and fresh, though a little lacking on the dressing, while the corn kernels added texture and sweetness, the caviar some saltiness and the diced jalepenos mild spice.
While I didn’t necessarily take to the combination of so many ingredients, I certainly liked the concept of the entrée and loved those bread crisps.
This and the other entrees were matched with a Mount Horrocks Watervale Riesling from South Australia's Clare Valley and my preferred Austrian Domäne Wachau Grüner Veltliner - both rather light whites that paired satisfactorily with some of the big flavours of the entrees.
|Steamed lobster bisque soup dumplings filled with prawn and scallop, served with |
soy and red vinegar sauce, fresh ginger and spring onions
Eaten with the dipping sauce of soy and red vinegar sauces, I think the threads of ginger, however pretty, might have been a bit overpowering for the delicate shellfish flavours of the steamed dumpling.
|Confit crispy skin duck breast with five spices served with homemade pancakes, |
cucumber, spring onions, taro chips and plum & orange sauce
I admit that I missed the traditional thick hoisin dipping sauce, even though the plum and orange sauce was a valiant alternative.
|Roasted lamb cutlet crusted with Massaman curry and lime leaf |
served with cucumber and mint jelly
Not only was the cooked-to-perfection lamb cutlet the most tender I think I’ve ever had, it matched divinely with the square of quivering mint jelly – not all of the jelly mind you, as it packed quite the flavour punch. It was a little bit messy to eat but so good I’m sure I could have gone another three.
|Lemon sorbet palate cleanser|
Wines to go with our mains were a red and a white: a robust Curlewis 'Bel Sel' Pinot Noir from near Geelong in Victoria and an oaky Nuedorf Chardonnay from New Zealand which confirmed that I still don't like oaked chardonnays.
|Singaporean jumbo king prawn curry with capsicum, broccoli and sugar snap |
served with fritter dipping sticks
The curry had a good level of spice heat, while I much preferred the vegies – red capsicum sticks, broccoli and sugar snap peas – over the cooled, chewy yau char gwai/yu tiao stick.
|Braised beef cheek served with smoked bacon and sweet potato mash, |
sugar snap, carrot and garlic-soy jus
That’s how soft this 5-hour braised meat was, that I could pick at it with chopsticks. And it was glorious – softly glutinous with subtle five spice in the seasoning, while I thought the garlic in the jus was overpowering – even with the carrot sticks and sugar snap peas.
Or perhaps it was just my state of fullness that didn’t allow me to enjoy the garlicky jus, nor the smoky bacon-littered sweet potato mash – which together combines for a seriously rich dish; heavy and winter ready.
|Dessert platter for two|
I started on the doughnut balls, coated with an apparently ginger sugar and its doughy insides holding a warmed, gooey coconut custard. As I was way too full to enjoy a ball of carbohydrates, however sweet and fluffy, I found myself more dipping into the tiny Asian sauce dish for the fabulously tangy pineapple sorbet.
Next up was the adorable little Belgian dark chocolate pudding; warm, moist and pure, decadent comfort. Another winter winner, this little guy was dark chocolate heaven, pairing particularly well with my all-time favourite hazelnut ice cream and sweet strawberry segments.
|Cinnamon and honey pannacotta served with caramel ice cream |
and cinnamon sugar swirls
It is eerie thinking about the history of the place and the fact that you're eating and drinking where some rather unsavoury things may have happened in the past - but that's all part of the fun.
And with a new menu that entices on every line (seriously - I would eat everything on that menu), perhaps it's time for a trip to the dark, now not-so-illicit side to say 'ello 'ello to a real Kings Cross/Potts Point character.
Food, booze and shoes dined as a guest of LL Wine and Dine.