Since there are three locations (Darlinghurst, Surry Hills and Randwick) I thought my chances of going in to one of them would be pretty high. However, as time went by the opportunity never presented itself and it seemed like we'd never get around to checking out this chain of small bars. Then by chance my friend decided we should all head there for her birthday drinks last week- finally a chance to suss Lil Darlin out! I of course set my expectations high and had my fingers crossed for a new instant favourite.
And was it?
Well, the decor lived up to my thoughts: adorable flower boxes, ivy creeping from the roof and marble table tops mixed with wooden chairs. The lighting was dimmed and candles burnt cutely on every individual table. Yes, it was sleek but still managed to have charm.
The drinks menu was extensive. We had some beers on tap and then opted for a bottle of wine to split between husband and I. Since it was a school night we didn't go down the cocktail path although it would have been easy to find more then one I wanted on the menu.
Since there was a large group of us dining we decided to each order a pizza and then share around the slices so everyone could try a bit of everything.
I managed to have some of the:
Grilled Chilli Prawn
Crispy Peking Duck
Grilled Pancetta and Gorgonzola
These were all very tasty and I would happily eat all three again. The prawn seemed like it had the most topping but the peking duck was just amazing and I can see why it's apparently the favourite on the menu.
Husband had the grilled chorizo & buffalo mozzarella and was very happy with his choice- the pizza was demolished very quickly which I take as a good sign to the how much he liked it.
The pizza's are a nice size and the boys on the table all seemed happy with the amount served- no one was left in need of more food (accept a couple of people who have sweet tooth's and had already made a decision to head next door for Gelato Messina- we'll talk about that place another time).
But... and yes I fear there is a but in this review (which I didn't expect since this was meant to become a new favourite).
Firstly, our friends were a little shocked at the menu prices- it seemed they had been here when it first opened and it looks like since it's become a success the menu has gone up in price. They felt like weren't getting the same value for money they use to get. (I found the old menu on google and yes the prices have gone up).
For husband and I we didn't mind since we'd never been there before and $20-ish for a pizza each didn't seem that bad when dining out. The drinks at approx $10 a beer/wine also seemed in line with most cocktail bars around as well and wasn't shocking.
What did get us was just as our food was being served the cutlery was bought out to us and in the little bucket it came in we saw a promotional postcard which said any weeknight they offered a meal deal: a bottle of wine and a pizza for $39. This was annoying as at no time did the staff tell us this special was on- which was odd since we were all ordering pizza's and drinking.
It wasn't on any posters or chalkboards either- it was hidden on the little cards and when the birthday girl raised the issue with the wait staff when we got the bill they kind of brushed it off. Husband and I had ordered a bottle of wine off the menu and we would have potentially saved a bit of money if we'd gone for this meal deal.
So, what was my overall feeling from this place?
Great for a Friday or Saturday night. That's when I want to pay more for drinks and I'm prepared to spend money on eating out. Midweek I'd much rather get a deal or to be honest eat at home (I do actually like cooking healthy food!).
It seems to me that Lil Darlin use to a place that did meal deal nights but since it's established itself it doesn't need to rely on that type of business. To be honest the place was busy for a Wednesday so why would they do such a thing if they don't need to.
Don't get my wrong with my negatives cause I overall I did like this place. The service despite not telling us about the special offer was friendly and very attentive. The food was yummy- yes I'd have those pizza's again in a heart beat and the atmosphere was cool and fun.
They did also help surprise the Birthday girl when our friend asked if she could buy a dessert and have them serve it to her. They bought it out with sparklers and that was very sweet (although my friend ordered a brownie and a fruit crumble came out- whoops).
Overall, Lil Darlin it feels like we had an awkward first date but I'm pretty sure we'll hang out again sooner then later cause I did really like you. Also, I really want to try some of those cocktails and eat that duck pizza again.