Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Li'l Darlin Showcase Dinner, Surry Hills

A few weeks ago the lovely Simon Hancock, founder of Simon Says, invited me to a showcase dinner at Lil Darlin in Surry Hills. I brought the lovely Christine along as I knew she loved Lil Darlin and would appreciate their infamous cocktails.

The setting was intimate and sweet - fresh flowers, personal name cards, printed menus and dim lighting. The lighting in the joint it definitely on the dark side, but not so dark you can't read your menu and while there's music in the background, you can still have a conversation at your table without screaming.

Smashin Passion - rum and amaretto shaken with passionfruit pulp and lemon juice $16.90
Hundreds & Thousands - vodka blended with homemade apple and strawberries mingling with fresh lemon juice $16.90

Christine and I arrived a little early, scoped out the joint, took some pictures of the garden party set up they had and indulged in some evening cocktails. The cocktails are definitely a little girly in terms of taste and definitely so in their pretty looks.

I'm definitely the type of person who doesn't overlook the little touches that make some that little bit more special so I certainly appreciated the cute little name cards guarding everyone's seat. Each and every person at the showcase was made to feel a little special and I can definitely say the service was warm and friendly.

Salt & Pepper Calamari - served with nahm jim and chipotle aioli 

The batter on these calamari was nice and crisp, just the way I like it. If only there was a few more of these suckers to munch up.

Arancini Balls - fried risotto balls with fontina cheese, tomato, herbs & feta, served with chipotle aioli

I'm definitely a bigger croquette rather than arancini fan but these were quite nice. Christine loved them and I enjoyed having the aioli dipping sauce with them.

Grilled Chilli Prawns - tossed in chilli, homemade napolitana sauce, served with homemade flat bread

I love prawns almost any way you cook and the garlic chilli prawns here were drenched in a thick tomato napolitana sauce which was easily mopped up with the accompanying flat bread.

Pork and Beef Meatballs - served with tomato and onion sauce topped with basil and parmesan

The meatballs were probably my favourite out of all the starters. They're definitely thick and hearty, luckily not too dry considering their size and a great way to start the meal.

It was quite nice being around others who understand the need to take as many photos of possible of your food before tucking in! A lot of plates were moved, flowers rearranged, shuffling between people to get better light and shutter taking.

Warm Spiced Butternut Pumpkin Salad - with chickpeas, tomato, goats cheese and rocket dressed with white balsamic dressing and finished with balsamic glaze
Grilled Chilli Prawn Thin-Crust Pizza - with roasted capsicum and roma tomato topped with salsa verde and chilli sauce
Roasted Mushroom & Pancetta Thin-Crust Pizza - thyme roasted field mushrooms, button mushrooms, goats curd, rocket and parmesan crust topped with grilled pancetta, balsamic glaze and lemon zest
Summer Crunch Salad - with sliced fennel, creamy bluecheese, roasted walnuts, fresh apple, garden peas and rocket

There was a variety of pizzas sprawled across the table but my favourites were the prawn and mushroom pancetta. The chilli prawn pizza was surprisingly fiery even without the additional chilli sauce on the side. Pizzas are definitely a firm favourite at Lil Darlin, particularly for groups.

Char-Grilled Sirloin Steak - served with fresh and mushroom sauce

We were all literally stuffed as we sat there but there was still a main to come. The steak was definitely on the medium, if not well done side of the spectrum so wasn't as enjoyable for myself who prefers medium rare. Crisp green beans were served on the side which was a welcomed sight of greenery and I loved the mushroom sauce.

As if we weren't spoilt enough, a flurry of spectacular looking cocktails emerged for tasting. The ever-popular hundreds and thousands cocktail made an appearance with the equally as popular and beautiful fairy floss martini. I've been to Lil Darlin enough to appreciate the consistent standard of cocktails that come floating out from the bar which is a good sign. I can only image the bar covered in hundreds and thousands!

Fairy Floss Martini - vodka, blood orange and vanilla syrup mixed with raspberry sorbet and raspberries
Amaretto Sour - amaretto shaken with lemon juice, topped with a glazed red cherry
Hundreds & Thousands - vodka blended with homemade apple and strawberries mingling with fresh lemon juice
White Choc' Passionfruit Martini - white choc' liquer, cake infused vodka topped with ruby red grapefruit and passionfruit

Oven-baked Original Swirls - sweet pastry scroll served straight form the oven, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar served with vanilla ice cream

If the description doesn't have you salivating at the mouth than I'm not sure what will! What I love about the swirls is they're served warm, making them soft, in contrast to the cold, cold vanilla ice cream.

Lil Darlin is one of my top recommendations for a casual dinner for groups wanting share food and cocktails. The atmosphere is fun and more than perfect for a night out over good company, food and drinks. I've actually only ever been to the Surry Hills branch but you can also head to Darlinghurst or Randwick. There's a slew of specials and promotions on each and every day to save you some coin.

Li'l Darlin
420 Elizabeth St
Surry Hills NSW 2010

Disclaimer - I was invited to dine at Li'l Darling by Simon Hancock. I was not paid and all opinions are my own.


  1. Whoah those cocktails! And nothing beats freshly baked cinnamon scrolls!

    1. The cocktails are definitely appreciated after a long days' work!

  2. I am not a drunkard but I love red wines coz its good for the heart.. Everytime I travel I search for foods and healthy wines.