It reminded me of my Grandma's House. If my Grandma had been taking acid. A gorgeous old cottage, gutted to fit in a funky bar and enormous pizza oven; the front garden taken over by treacherous bar stools and the trees bedazzled by the fairy light… fairy.
I loved it, I wish it was my local watering hole, because it was small enough to feel intimate, neither the staff nor customers were pretentious, and the menu (both food and wine) were varied, well priced and intriguing. Zucchini fries anyone?
I was meeting two old school friends on a rare child-free occasion. We arrived around 8pm and even though the Cottage was buzzing in that way popular places do, there was still an empty table for us (we opted for the bar stools in the front garden) and we were quickly offered water and menus.
Turns out I was the only one who hadn't eaten dinner, but just like women like to go to the bathroom together, we also like to eat together and it was a safe assumption that if I ordered food to share, it wouldn't go to waste.
I think it's fair to say that the Cottage promotes sharing, which I think is a pretty awesome philosophy. No main-sized selfish options here. Everything is designed to be eaten with your friends. Twelve pizzas all compete for attention including the 'fun guy' ($20) mushroom paste, foir de latte, mushrooms, truffle oil and lemon; the hoi sin duck ($26) pulled confit duck, hoisin, with Vietnamese herb salad and cashews and Mr Pork Waldorf ($26) roasted pork belly, black pudding with apple stick and celery salad, salad cream and walnut salt. Of course, they all sound so good, you may not *want* to share.
The share plates range from crispy fried chickpeas with pimento salt ($6) to 'fancy chips' with gruyere and truffle oil ($10) to roast pork belly on carrot puree with broccoli, currants and toasted almonds ($20).
I chose the Italian meatballs ($14) which was four fist sized balls, just like my mum makes, in a thick tomato sauce, served with half a dozen slices of a good crusty bread for mopping up the juices.
The zucchini fries sounded intriguing and tasted it as well. For $11 we received a dish of crispy-on-the-outside and soft-almost-soggy-on-the-inside fingers of zucchini with a bowl of tangy yuzu mayonnaise.
Even the dessert menu is designed to share. Well, I assume it must be since some of the dishes are pushing the pricy end of the spectrum ($18-$22). We ordered the Cottage's trifle flowerpot because it sounded like something one of our kids might make if we let them loose in the kitchen. On acid.
Adult's nutella (does this mean booze?), caramel crème, peanut butter mousse, raspberry jelly, crushed Kingston biscuits, almond praline and pistachio floss ($18).
It came with a real daisy sticking out of it. Very cute.
It was fun to share, but you'd want to really 'like' your dining companions because you can't help but get a little intimate with them when your spoons are playing footsie in amongst the adult nutella and peanut butter. I wouldn't advise trying to make it at home.
The wine menu is really user-friendly with plenty of options by the glass as well as by the bottle, and many clocking in below $10 a glass. There is a mix of local, interstate as well as international offerings – both beer and wines. All budgets are catered for with bottles of wine ranging from $30 to $130, alcoholic ciders and even 'share' bowls of punch ($30). Such a friendly place.
The Cottage is a great place to bring your friends, or perhaps people you want to be friends with.
One thing though, if you are planning on staying a while, perhaps avoid the bar stools and settle into one of the couches.