I love trying out new restaurants but what I love even more is trying them out when I’ve walked past the empty space for months, watching it with baited breath and eager anticipation to see what it might become.
Belvedere bar and grill opened two weeks ago in the space that used to be Wilson’s boat house at Portside Wharf, Hamilton.
Not too much has changed in terms of lay out or fit out from it’s former personality but now it has more of an upmarket steakhouse feel to it with a fancy wine room at the back.
On the way to your table you’ll walk past the kitchen. It’s nice and open so you can have a peek at what’s going on. The tables are set similarly to their sister restaurant, Gusto di Gianni, with a bottle of olive oil and freshly cracked salt and pepper as a centerpiece.
As soon as we were seated I was straight into the menu/place mat. They don’t have a website yet so I couldn’t check it out online before like I usually do.
There were a few specials on the day as well although being written in a neon colour on white tile made them impossible for any of us to see. There could have been a bit more light at our table to make menu reading a bit easier too. Maybe a little candle on the table would have been a nice touch.
I was left in charge of ordering starters and of course went straight to dumplings. The huge crab dumplings were plump and tasty with a generous serving of crab on top and of course the essential micro-herbs.
Next up was the prawn tasting plate. I think the barbequed prawns in the middle were my favourite – perfectly charred and flavoursome without that awful chewiness you sometimes get. To one side of the barbequed prawns were two huge tempura prawns fried head and tail and all. The fresh prawns on the other end were nice and juicy and would make a very delicious lunch in summer.
I wouldn’t rave about the bread. It was good but not overly flavoured with thyme, oregano and garlic like I was expecting and it was a little too charred for my liking.
Like their sister restaurant, Belvedere also has a rather fancy chandelier this time made of champagne glasses. Again I couldn’t help but pity the person who has to clean it.
Onto the mains. There’s just no way to make a plate of ribs look good in a photo I don’t think . The boys enjoyed their trio of ribs but I think they were expecting something a bit more basic that you’d eat with your fingers and need a bib.
There were pieces of meat on the plate the size of a fillet of steak!
A selection of dipping sauces came with the three ribs but I wasn’t listening when they told us what they were and apparently nor was anyone else. Oops.
‘I said you could take a photo of them not eat them!’
Dad was a little protective of his chips when I grabbed a couple before passing the bowl back to him. They were nice and crunchy and well salted.
The chicken panzanela was a giant serve of almost half a chicken. We still weren’t entirely sure what it was meant to be but it was quite delicious.
A couple of weeks ago we had friends over to dinner for my first attempt at beef cheeks. It was probably my biggest failure to date. They were tough and tasteless and I was bordering on mortified when I sliced into mine.
I’ve decided I might have to leave them to the experts. Just looking at this photo again has be practically salivating. They were so tender I could have eaten them with a spoon and all the accompaniments went perfectly. I like that it wasn’t too fussy but just the right amount of fancy.
I go through addicted phases with food and at the moment it’s mushrooms. I can’t get enough of them. These lovely meaty field mushrooms were delicious (sorry about the blur, it was very dark!).
I was talked into this dessert by the waiter (well that’s my excuse anyway). While it was yummy there was a bit too much of the cake-like part and not quite enough apple for my liking. I would have liked a smaller portion with lots of apples.
The cinnamon ice-cream was really good as was the golden honeycomb.
Belvedere isn’t just about the food. They also have a rather cosy looking bar area and more seating outside (there are heaters in winter).
I’m thinking the name comes from Belvedere vodka? You think?
Overall we had a great meal at Belvedere. Despite only being open for 3 days, the service was snappy and friendly. The prices are at the high end of the scale but their worth it for the beef cheeks.
What about you? Do you like to try out new restaurants as soon as they open or do you prefer to wait until they’ve found their feet?
Belvedere bar and grill is located at Portside Wharf, Shop 1 39 Hercules Street. It’s open lunch daily noon-2.30pm, dinner daily from 6pm.