Surry Hills boozer the Dolphin has always been a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure experience. In the dining room you’d get a refined menu of pastas and steaks, the public bar was pizza central, the wine room was all about downing natural drops and snacking on small share plates, and up at the (now-closed) Scout it was all about innovative cocktails.
But now things have changed. Co-owner Maurice Terzini (Icebergs, Cicciabella) and Terzini-era chef Monty Koludrovic have both left the building, and a new concept has entered. Now, for the first time since the pub was overhauled in 2016, you can order every dish on the Dolphin menu no matter where you are in the building. Burgers in the dining room? Go ahead. A 400-gram rib-eye in the public bar? Not a problem.
Executive chef Tom Walton (also at Bondi Beach Public Bar) says the new way of eating at The Dolphin is intended to make it more accessible for everyone. “We wanted to take the restaurant menu that everyone loved and provide access to it no matter where you are in the venue,” Walton tells Broadsheet. “One menu for the venue has made it way more fun, too – the main menu now has all the best dishes and great diversity no matter where you choose to sit. It also means you can drink some of the amazing wine from the wine list, sip on some great summer drinks and order snacks rather than a full dining room meal.”
Walton says the new menu is all about “spring freshness and deliciousness”. Expect light dishes such as grilled octopus salsa verde, burrata with extra-virgin olive oil and chardonnay dressing, and kingfish crudo. Fans of the pub’s popular pizza menu won’t be left disappointed, with toppings continuing to lean traditional – marinara, primavera and capricciosa among them. If you fell in love with the burger menu (a stopgap while the menu was overhauled post-Covid) you’ll still be able to get your fix, with cheeseburgers, fish burgers and eggplant-parmi burgers all on the menu.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about the new menu is that dishes previously confined to the more upmarket dining room can now be enjoyed anywhere. Think the aforementioned linguine with prawns and XO, pappardelle ragu, pork cotoletta, and herb-roasted chicken cacciatore.
“The menu still has its foot firmly planted in the initial DNA of Aussies doing Italian, which is always important for us here,” says Walton. “The [spring] menu skews a little fresher, lots of seafood and a few more delicious vegetable-driven dishes.”