Last night was a special evening. Fifteen years ago I had made arrangements to meet with a friend for a pre-Christmas drink and then got a call from friends who were not long home from their OE to do the same. I figured they’d all get on, so suggested we all meet up at the Jolly Poacher Bar for a drink.
Three hours later, a few drinkies and the need to eat lead us to walk down the block to the Tin Goose Cafe. We enjoyed ourselves so much we figured we should do this more often. How about once a month? An institution was born! Of course because we’d imbibed a little, we gave ourselves a name – the Divine Diners, and made up some rules. Most of the sillier ones fell by the wayside pretty quickly but one has remained – to go somewhere new every month.
After the earthquakes we created a “return” rule – we could go back somewhere if they re-opened after the quake, and we’ve possibly visited a handful of places again. Of course, we do go back to places, but just not on an “official” night! Fifteen years later, a couple of extra friends joining, one wedding, and numerous ‘guests’ later we are still going strong and last night, being our December outing, was our 15 year anniversary. Unfortunately one of the group couldn’t join us but six of us went to a very appropriately named restaurant “Dine Divine” which I will talk about in a minute. However I do want to celebrate 15 years of a unique friendship with these guys. We do other things together, but this little act of officially going somewhere once a month, and NEVER having run out of new places to eat, has been pretty special. These guys are great friends, we have amazing (sometimes silly) conversations, share art, music and literature, and of course, we dine together. I do hope there’s many more years to come!
So! Last night Mike had the added pressure of not only the Christmas outing, but the 15th Anniversary. He’s a newer member of the group, joining us a few years ago and being the reason for the “one wedding” aforementioned! He can relax, he did well!
Dine Divine (what an aptly named venue for us) is set out in Yaldhurst, so in a semi-rural setting on what used to be a Vineyard cafe. It has an outdoor area, and a lovely redecorated cottage appeal from outside. On the inside was a beautiful open, contemporary dining room. Simple, and elegant.
It reminded a couple of us of Twenty Seven Steps, in style, service and food – which is a good thing. It was contemporary dining, beautiful food, lovely vibe.
The service was great, very unobtrusive. There was one other large group and us dining, which made for a pleasant dining experience too. However even if it had been full there is plenty of space and the acoustics seem to be up to scratch so I would expect that noise levels would be fine too.
So on to the food, a couple had croquettes as starters, and one had the chowder. For mains I had the Vegetarian dish – parmesan chips, semi dried tomatoes, eggplant, grilled haloumi cheese, with corn and coriander cakes. They even put the haloumi on a separate plate so I could decide how much to eat (I’m not the biggest on lots of cooked cheese). It was actually a perfect serve so I put the cheese back on my plate for the photo!
The others ordered Pork Belly, the Lamb Rump, Seafood Chowder, Beef Fillet. The food was absolutely beautiful.
Desserts were ordered, and the Creme Brûlée (me), the pancakes (with creme brûlée ice-cream and butter scotch sauce were ordered, and there were no chocolate cigars available, but they replaced this dish on the menu with a chocolate mousse, salted-caramel sauce and vanilla bean ice-cream! We were all in dining heaven by the end of the night! The prices were more on the high side of what we usually pay, but worth every penny. They also accept the Entertainers book vouchers so that was good. All up, drinks included we paid $52.50 each. Lunches and brunches are reasonably priced and the venue, with its outdoor seating would make a lovely summer time venue.
At no point were we rushed, which was great, because our night hadn’t finished – we had secret santa to do. We play the “stealing game” with this so it can take some time, so a couple of hot drinks were ordered and the games began. As a bonus gift though this year, one of the founding members of Divine Diners had put her creative efforts and time and energy into a special 2016 calendar – full of beautiful food and group shots!
So ends 2015’s Dining Out… here’s to 2016!