There's an old-fashioned, yet a little bit now, a little bit groovy, pub atmosphere - just as we like it - at the Dove & Olive Surry Hills. If you thought we were going to say hipster, you would be wrong. We do (or have until now) avoided that word. If we wanted, we could have ordered some bar food downstairs with our drinks, but we head up the stairs to the dining room. The stairs divide two sections, a lighter courtyard feel to the back of the stairs, and ye olde pub (with low rounded banquettes and high tables with stools) on the Devonshire Street side of the stair well. From our table for two, we're looking at a wall of black and white photos, old film stars, old lounge singers. The lunchtime sunlight streams through the stained glass windows.
It's Mountain Goat month at the Dove & Olive Surry Hills, so it is with 'I spy with my little eye' we see goat shepherds pie on the specials menu. Apparently, there'll be a goat dish a day during the month to continue the theme with the Mountain Goat beer.
It's also the start of winter so there's now a daily soup special, and that's where we start - with the minestrone. At only ten bucks, it could have been a meal in itself. The soup is warm, and tasty, and hearty. And, it comes with three generous slices of toasted dark rye bread.
But if we stopped there, where would we be- without a story for you. So although each of the pub meals were indeed a meal unto themselves, in the name of research, we pushed on.
Five sticks of Pork & Fontina Cheese Lollipops ($15) are listed under snacks. But once again, they are big and generous bites and more than enough for a meal for a girl. Better to share and save room for more. And that's what we did. The lollipops hold well on the stick. They're good eating. Full of flavour. And a little bit spicy. And they come with two dipping sauces. On the Dove & Olive Snacks menu there's also Calamari Fritti, Cheese Sticks, Buffalo Hot Kickin' Wings, Sweet Potato Wedges (with or without cheese) and Spicy Shoestring Fries.
The chef recommends two mains, the Sydney pulled pork favourite among them, one of six options from Between Bread on the menu. Louisiana Pulled Pork Po'Boy is a monster of a dish on a 10" rye baguette, chock to the brim with slaw, piled to the brim with soft and satisfying pulled pork. And it comes, on a board, with the shoestring fries. Be hungry before you start. Or try and share. It's H.U.G.E. And of course tasty.
There's so many other options to choose from at the Dove & Olive. There's a grill section with cola ribs & Delmonico rump. The rump can also come with horseradish, or with blue vein cheese and asparagus. At one of the banquettes we see two guys share a pizza, with housemade dough, and four options for toppings. We stick to the middle page of the three-fold: a selection of nine mains. From that we try what we found to be the dish of the day. It's another of the Louisian style dishes.
Southern Style Jambalaya with Salsa Picanta is a really beautiful dish. The rice is fluffy yet firm, the Cajun spices are intriguing without being overpowering. Then, there is all that protein goodness in the mix: sausage, chicken, shrimp (prawns) and pancetta. Again, it's hearty, two pottery bowls on a board. And we have share plates.
Our sweet tooths and chocolate addictions win to try and stuff some more food in between two of us. Just in the name of research of course. There's just one sweet option. Wonderful. Wonderful. Salted Churros. Served with nutella, double cream and powdered sugar. If you wanted to you could skip these and have cheese instead. Although we couldn't possible understand why you would pass.
We've been slowly sipping craft beers and ciders, some from the tap, some from tinnies, some are new discoveries. There's quite a range of brews at the Dove & Olive. But, that's a whole other story...