There's plenty of unwinding to be done while you dine at the new-look Tilbury Hotel. Last November the Wooloomooloo pub underwent renovations — its first reno in 12 years — and has emerged on the other side with a new menu, a new vibe and a new aesthetic. Pastel undertones, bright whites, gold brass trimmings offset with dark and light woods will have you escaping the city grind in no time. Think Scandinavian meets coastal sea breeze, and a few retro details flowing out into the sunny courtyard.
Grab a seat at one of the leather banquettes, or pull up a chair complete with its own stitched quilt, where you can expect a gastropub menu with a little bit of everything. A glass of sparkling and a few Port Stephens rock oysters with Archie Rose gin, dill and cucumber ($4 each) will have you kicking back in no time. Chase it up with Fraser Island spanner crab on toast ($4 each), and you might just quit your day job.
The crispy smoked ox cheek, radish and pickled mushrooms ($22) will take things up a notch, or if you're more of a poultry fan, try the chicken terrine with apple and celeriac remoulade, hazelnuts and sourdough ($18). Best washed down with an ice-cold bottled, or on-tap brew.
Jumping straight to mains? Skip the ricotta gnocchi with garlic prawns, scallops and heirloom tomatoes — the blended capsicum in the sauce overpowers the delicate flavours — but do go for the pan fried snapper, saag aloo, lentil dahl and lassi dressing ($33). The fish is perfectly cooked, the spices well-balanced, and it goes down nicely with a glass of La Belle Pierre rose ($12). Of course, there's also a few meaty options for those who need something more substantial.
Desserts will surprise; there's a savoury element in each offering. You can stick to the classics with the choccy and cardamom pudding with rosewater cream ($15), but we suggest going for it with something more exotic like the pumpkin panna cotta with cacao nib and pumpkin puree ($15). It's creamy, light and the perfect combination of sweet and savoury. Can't decide? Order the dessert platter ($30) and you won't have to. And if you prefer to drink your dessert, an espresso martini will do the trick ($18).
Apart from the regular lunch and dinner menu, they're also serving brunch from 10am on Sundays, and, once the clock strikes noon, they switch to a Sunday roast with all the trimmings. If it's fine food in a relaxed and polished pub setting you're after, then The Tilbury's got you covered. Just make sure you leave enough time to really unwind, and enough room for dessert.
Updated: March 10, 2016.