PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
With a history as sultry and varied as its rooms, LL Wine and Dine won a place in my heart even before I saw the porn wall. And I'm not that type of girl. And it is that type of wall. You see it all boils down to its history. Before becoming one of Sydney's coolest new restaurants, LL Wine and Dine was an adult bookshop. A casino (and later a swingers' club) that masqueraded as an adult bookshop, actually. When new owners Chris, Matthew and Tim Barge started to strip the walls, they found secret passageways, false entrances, pipes for super-security hydraulic doors, a secret upstairs storage room and 35 bags of old-school porn. Which brings me back to the porn wall. Selecting the "classier" images, the boys used the magazines as wallpaper in the restaurant's passageway as a memento to its seedy past. Don't worry, you don't have to dine near it but it's well worth a look.
When it comes to the actual dining decor, inspired by Hong Kong's bar/restaurant scene, it moves in a maze-like manner from a polished bar to modern Japanese screens and a split-level area featuring three atmospheric dimly-lit rooms with Asian-inspired red and gold feature walls and dark furniture. The menu reflects a modern Asian bend with meals that are both great stand-alone nibblers and fantastic to share with friends over cocktails. Chef Jingyi Kung (ex Melange and Matsuri) does a great job of playing on traditional Chinese dishes like san choy bau with Thai and Japanese twists (by filling them with pine nuts, lemongrass, mint and croutons, for example). Some stand-out dishes also include crispy-skinned pork belly and black tea and star anise house-smoked duck pancakes. Also not to be missed are cocktails with fantastic names like "BIG trouble in China".