As you know, it was my birthday a couple of months back,and my lovely sister bought me a hot rock tapas lunch experience at The Exchange Hotel in Balmain. And wow – this was such a treat! Balmain is a great place to spend an afternoon, with its quirky and boutique shops, and chilled cafes and bars, and The Exchange Hotel is a really good find. A warm and cosy interior for the more relaxed bar area and an elegant restaurant section, with an outdoor veranda where we were sat.
The experience included three cold dishes to start and three different mains to cook on a hot rock plate. And a good bottle of red to share went down very nicely too!
Everything was so immaculately presented when it arrived. The first dish was baked feta with hazelnuts, truffle honey and grilled bread – readers will know my cheese weakness so my eyes lit up at this one! And Dan is not a cheese fan, so this all for me… It was just delicious, the feta was strong and punchy but the bread was a perfect accompaniment to it. I couldn’t bare to leave any of it!
Our other two dishes to start were glazed chicken wings with lime and chilli salt, and smoked ham terrine with mustard, pickles and toast. The chicken had a chinese barbecue taste to the glaze and they were super tasty.
The smoked ham terrine had a lot of flavour and tasted great alongside the pickles – all balanced nicely with bread. An amazing mix of flavours overall – how could it get better from here?
Well it did! We were then presented with a hot rock plate and three dishes of raw chicken breast, sirloin steak strips and prawns. The waitress informed us that the plate normally lasts about 15-20 minutes and we were welcome to get a new plate if this one cooled down – well, we didn’t really give it a change to cool down! We started adding the meat and prawns on to cook, and took it in turns to play chef.
The steak strips were quick, as I enjoy beef rare, whereas the chicken and prawns needed some more time. We had soy sauce to go with the beef, a chilli green pesto with the chicken and a seafood dressing for the prawns. As a tip for anyone going to this – start with the beef as the juices act as useful non-stick base for the chicken and prawns.
This really was a fantastic experience and I highly recommend it as a lunch that’s a little bit different. The staff were very attentive and friendly, and we felt like we were being spoilt. And if you just fancy a drink and bar snack, this venue is perfect. I can’t wait to go back!