[box_alert]Imagine has closed[/box_alert]

From first appearances, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was just an average senior’s bowling club bistro. Oh, how wrong I was!
Zen’s workmate DC has been a local at the club for decades and even celebrated his 50th birthday at this family-run restaurant on its opening day some time last year. When we agreed to stroll down the street to Wiseman Park Wollongong City Bowling Club for brunch, I went sans-camera, not expecting anything photo-worthy. (Pictures below taken with my brand spanking new iPhone)
Imagine is more of a bistaurant (bistro & restaurant). Its menu is down-to-earth yet slightly fancy but sticks to a traditional Mediterranean fare. The prices are higher than a $10 pub steak but its food has many talking. On a Friday or Saturday night, expect to find the place booked out, with regulars even taking the food out to a different seating area.
Zen and I share the seafood paella which was about $56.90 from memory. We’re advised that it will take about 25 minutes to be cooked so we start off with some garlic bread.
The Turkish bread was piping hot and buttery and could have had a little more garlic. However, it was delicious to the boyfriend, the non-garlic eater who eats garlic occasionally.
Our meals were thoughtfully brought out at the same time.
DC has the lamb casserole which is served with a side of steamed seasonal vegetables. He compares it to his mother’s cooking which is a good sign, although stating that it’s missing a crucial ingredient which he can’t pinpoint. I think anything substantially close to one’s mother’s cooking is bloody good.
The seafood paella smelt scrumptious and included a generous spread of mussels, moreton bay bugs, king prawns and baby octopus. The rice was of the perfect consistency and I simply loved the tomato and saffron colours which stained Zen’s fingers, hehe :)

Wiseman Park Wollongong City Bowling Club's Imagine Restaurant - garlic bread
Garlic bread

Wiseman Park Wollongong City Bowling Club's Imagine Restaurant - lamb casserole
Lamb casserole

Wiseman Park Wollongong City Bowling Club's Imagine Restaurant - seafood paella
Seafood Paella before waiter served it

Wiseman Park Wollongong City Bowling Club's Imagine Restaurant - seafood paella spooned out on plate and served
My plate of seafood paella

Make a booking and be surprised.

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Imagine Restaurant
Wiseman Park Wollongong City Bowling Club
Foleys Rd, Gwynneville, NSW
Phone: +61 (2) 4229 4132‎

***Update on November 2010 – this restaurant has relocated to Sonny’s Pizzeria on the Princes Highway, Corrimal***

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Jennifer is the founding blogger of I Ate My Way Through (originally, Jenius.com.au). Growing up in the multicultural melting pot of Sydney’s Inner West as a second generation Australian (of Vietnamese refugee parents of Teochew Chinese ancestry), Jen has always had a deep curiosity about global cuisines, culinary heritage and the cultural assimilation of immigrants. For Jen and her family, food is always at the centre of all celebrations, life events and milestones. A lover of the finer things in life, as well as cheap eats, her blogging ethos is all about empowering and inspiring people to expand their culinary repertoire. When not running her two companies (she is also the Managing Director of The Bamboo Garden online marketing agency), Jen can be found exploring old-world charms at vintage markets and delving into local eats around the world. She has a weakness for fried chicken.
9 comments
Howard
Howard

Is there anything the iPhone can't do ? :D wow I wouldn't have imagined a bowling club serving nice seafood paella !

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella
Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella

Bistaurant-I like it! That paella looks amazing and great photos from your iphone! It's the unexpectedly fabulous that is always so exciting.

Jen (jenius.com.au)
Jen (jenius.com.au)

Hey Karen, it tastes as good as it looks too! Hey Simon, hahaha, this was my fastest turnaround blog post! it was actually over the weekend! and after the all-you-can-eat mussels.... mussels, i can do more mussels....lol Hi Barbara, i surprised myself with the quality of these photos... it has opened up a whole new world of instant food tweeting! Hi FFichiban, a good paella is sometimes so hard to find but this was cooked well through and so flavoursome, mmm... i wonder if there are more bowling clubs with hidden kitchens like this...hehe Hey porkygourmand, yes it does look that way from the layout and old RSL bistro style chairs doesn't it! Hi Debzillah, haha, nah, it didn't taste as moist as it looks, was really good texture. and the serving size was on the larger end too so a bed of potato (i don't like polenta) would have pushed me over the top!

Debzillah
Debzillah

That is definitely good looking paella!!! The stew looks like it needs a big bed of potato or polenta mash to soak it up though :)

porkygourmand
porkygourmand

Wow Wisemans! A while back I used to live near this place but never thought to step in. I thought it was your typical senior's bistro.

FFichiban
FFichiban

Oh wow who would have thought a bowling club would serve such tantalizing Mediterranean fare. Mmm craving paella now!

barbara
barbara

Amazing those photos are taken with a cell phone. Love Paella.

Simon
Simon

The paella looks pretty good and so do the photos considering that they're from an iPhone (thought they were from your compact initially). I presume this was before the mussel free-for-all? I would have thought you'd shy away from the mussels otherwise :)

Karen
Karen

Wow that paella looks good!