Nestled in the leafy back streets of Paddington, Bellevue (formerly The Bellevue Hotel) has been trading since 1880, but it's been renovated and reinvented with a smart new menu that leaves behind pub stables for more contemporary fare. The restaurant is now a light space with booth seating and an airy dining room complete with hanging ferns and twig-like lighting fixtures.
While there are still the likes of burgers, oysters and cheese plates available in the pub, the restaurant's six-course tasting menu ($80) is an ideal way to taste a range of the creativity and interplay of textures on offer from head chef James Metcalfe, formerly of hatted restaurant Becasse. The tasting menu opens with snacks, such as a novel, bite-sized artichoke skin with taleggio and walnuts as well as an indulgent arancini-like ball of goat's cheese in a honey vanilla syrup. You'll also snap up the salt and vinegar kale, a crunchy treat that wisely infuses a lot of strong flavour into the fashionable but often barely palatable lettuce.
The tasting menu is going to be an evolving affair, but currently includes Queensland spanner crab with a light dusting of wasabi, microherbs and thin strips of celery intermingled with a mild apple gel. Paired with a 'Tinja' Chardonnay from Mudgee ($10/$48), which has strong notes of apple, it's a winning start. A prettily plated tuna, scallop and broccoli dish continues the theme of small but finely detailed and flavoursome offerings, while a caramelised pig's head with a paper-thin slice of house cured coppa, beetroot puree and toffee-infused apple ticks a lot of flavour boxes, from the saltiness of cured meat to the fleshy richness of the pig's head.
There's also a tender wagyu brisket, perfect for washing down with a hearty Argentinian Catena Malbec ($11/$52) before the menu concludes with a rich slice of spiced caramel chocolate tart, which is served with a dreamy dollop of earl grey ice cream. It's a delectable finish to the meal.
You'll notice that this review so far only pertains to the Bellevue's restaurant experience, which is excellent for the price and a nice addition to Paddington, where the beloved Pinbone has recently closed its doors. Why it's located at the back of this pub, however, is less than obvious. Sterile and soulless, the freshly renovated front bar comes less recommended.