Sitting and sipping in Sydney's best small bars every Monday. Check here for regular reviews.
To many of us budding wine connoisseurs, a chance to indulge at a quaint bar flaunting over 250 wines sounds utterly delicious. So, we packed our adjectives and arrived at the tiny Love, Tilly Devine, buzzing with life irrespective of the cold wind that had taken the evening.
The already over-crowded room had small wooden tables with unmatched plastic chairs, a coat rack bursting with water-tinged jackets and plain-clothed waiters carrying aromatic dishes and wine. Oh, the wine. Countless (although I’m positive you could count if you tried) bottles of wine. We attempted to settle into a table near the back, where a fellow barhopper had been patiently waiting next to a feverishly impatient couple, who were awkwardly interrupted mid-make-out slash mid-straddle by a thoroughly embarrassed employee. We were taken by surprise when we were told we were unable to stay at the table due to a booking, however the staff quickly shuffled some tables together to accommodate our possé. Although when I say quickly the whole kafuffle took about 10 minutes and by this time I was more than ready to dive into a glass of refreshing wine.
The service was very swift, with the bartender giving us menus and bringing us the daily-changing food menu, which made us all the more excited to try everything. Being in a wine bar, I ordered the trio of cheeses. I was disappointed upon asking the bartender which of his wines would go best with the cheese, to which he responded ‘red… or maybe Chardonnay’. Dismayed, I ordered the Riesling.
Now, quick note, the owners of this bar love Riesling. Worship it almost. Open to the page in the wine menu to the whites and you find a page dedicated to the glory that is the “the best drink in this bar… [or] in any bar”.
The barhoppers tried a range of white, red and sparkling wines all of which were good, however, none of which stood out. The cocktails we tried were good but you could tell it’s wasn’t really their forte. The food was fantastic, perfect portions of homely, honest food which we watched being expertly prepared at the bar. Oh and water comes out of a glass tank with a wooden handle. It’s pretty fantastic.
To all of you budding wine connoisseurs, take heed! On a few nights of the week (Tuesday and Wednesday I believe) you have the marvellous opportunity to test your skills. The Love, Tilly Divine crew will challenge your palate by giving you a sample of wine. If you can guess the grape, the glass is half-price and if you can guess grape and region, it’s even less. Although considering I hadn’t even heard of several grapes nor regions, with enough visits I am sure you will become an expert in no time at all.
In regards to price, the range is huge. You can buy by the bottle or glass. Glasses range from $10-22 and bottles all the way up to $693. I love, love LOVE how they group the wines by taste, not price, grape or region, which made it accessible and easy to follow (especially after a few glasses).
Overall, Love, Tilly Divine is a quaint, neat little bar. It’s vibe reflects exactly what they wanted it to – a mix of history (although, I would have liked to see a hint of naughty Tilly Divine history somewhere) and a mix of locality, tied together with an endless stream of refined grapes. In all honestly though, our trip would have been better if it had not been so packed. You could tell the bartenders were passionate about their wine, but they were rushed, and for me; I felt a missed opportunity to really indulge in their love of wine. However, saying that, I loved Love, Tilly Divine, and will most definiately be heading back there next time I feel like a big warm wine hug and some delicious wholesome food.
Love, Tilly Divine reminds me so much of a latin quote an old friend once told me“It is well to remember that there are five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend, one’s present or future thirst, the excellence of the wine, or any other reason” , and for that reason, I give it 4.182346 cheers of out 5.
Love, Tilly Devine
91 Crown Lane