October 10, 2010 § 4 Comments
In the past week I have eaten delicious scrambled tofu at Bondi’s Brown Sugar, goats cheese and roast tomato bruschetta at Trio, cheap and cheerful sashimi and teriyaki chicken at Sushi on Stanley, garlic white wine prawns, chorizo, pepperoni pizza and spinach pumpkin salad at Dish in Double Bay and a sumptuous feast at Neil Perry’s Spice Temple. Yet you may notice a lack of restaurant reviews here at the Strawberry Patch. Obviously it’s not from a lack of eating, but rather a love of eating. I don’t want to have to think too much about my dinner when I’m out, my friends probably don’t want me to pass comment on the taste, texture and presentation of every dish, and to be honest I’m always a little embarrassed to pull out my camera in the middle of a fine dining experience! Yet sometimes duty calls!
A Tavola on Victoria St, Darlinghurst, is somewhere I have been wanting to dine since I read rave reviews about it from my little hometown back in 2007, and now, three years after moving to Sydney, I can say delicious mission accomplished.
It was Friday when AB and I were planning our girl-date for the evening, emailing restaurant menus back and forth and bouncing around cuisine ideas, when I remembered that I would die if I didn’t eat at A Tavola in the very near future. 15 minutes later we had a booking. Two hours later I was sitting at the long communal table with a glass of semillon, a side of herby focaccia and my book while poor AB was stuck in traffic and getting more stressed by the minute on Parramatta Road. Not that I minded one iota – sitting, sipping, reading, nibbling, anticipating a beautiful meal = Friday night bliss.
40 minutes later, with a refilled glass and at least ten text messages from my date we realised that AB was really quite stuck and perhaps our booking allocation would be over before we had even ordered. Enter the divine Maitre De, Milo, who shuffled the seating arrangements of other groups so that when AB arrived we could both settle in for the long haul and savour the taste of their handmade pasta and sweet flaking fish. With waitstaff who were attentive without being pushy, and a simple, delectable menu, I think A Tavola has become the new Friday night date spot for these 2 girls!
The daily specials and handmade pastas.
Reading ‘The Household Guide to Dying’
Pappardelle with goat ragu.
Crispy blue-eye with radicchio and grapefruit salad.
After dinner head across the road to Messina! Perfect scoops – coconut and tiramisu
September 26, 2010 § 2 Comments
Since we met, NB and I have had a running joke about my avoidance of tapas. It is likely to come up in any conversation that mentions Spain, little morsels, chorizo, or eating out in general, so I think I caught him off-guard last night when I agreed to a tapas dinner. In my defence I never said I didn’t enjoy tapas (although that seems to be dear NB’s deluded train-of-thought!) I merely didn’t feel like it when once suggested and haven’t yet seemed to dig myself out of the hole (being too food-fussy too early…a serious dating faux pas). The truth is, with the exception of one meal years ago there hadn’t been circumstances in which I might have eaten tapas… ok, perhaps the real reason is that I DID avoid any hint of Ole due to a skewed perception of greasy deep-fried potatoes and hip-widening sausages. There! I said it!
So this is the backstory to how I ended up on Victoria St, Darlinghurst, yesterday evening with black stockings, mild panic and bated breath. We walked past numerous thai places – a healthy stir fry perhaps, a lebanese joint – tabbouleh and hummus are good for you, and Una’s – ??!?! – but I refuse to back down on my commitment.
We walk in to Kika and I am nearly twirled around by an enthusiastic Spanish waiter who I will call Alejandro (although I’m nearly certain this isn’t his name). We were given a table that would be free until 8:45 and, as it was still before 7pm I acknowledged that the culinary Gods had aligned for me to dine here. Alejandro left our menus and a bottle of tap water (I don’t think there was any discussion of still or sparkling- TICK!) while we perused the wine list. NB, having spent time living in Spain, was thrilled to see a variety of Spanish wines listed and ordered a smooth tempranillo that was the perfect velvety balance to our food.
I was somewhat out of my depth so left it up to NB to order, which he did in rapid Spanish, and although we doubted Alejandro when he said our 5 chosen dishes would be plenty, it would seem he was right. The food came out quickly and all at once and it was pretty much faultless as far as I was concerned. The olive oil was rich and flavoursome, the use of salt liberal yet delicate, the chargrilled asparagus worth comment and the heat of the garlic prawns a lovely contrast with the cool olives.
Portion sizes are perfect for two people to have a few bites of everything and the only thing NB and I regretted was that our stomachs couldn’t hold any more…next time I might wear my expandable pants so we can order the chicken wings as well… That’s right…next time! And you know what, I think I’ll be the first to suggest it!
The menus provide a taste of Spanish pop-culture
Olives (Aceitunas $5.50) and sauteed asparagus with garlic, olive oil and almond sauce (Esparragos a lo Sencillo $14.00)
A night special of baked chorizo sausage with poached eggs and tomato
Meatballs in traditional Spanish tomato sauce (Albondigas en Salsa $14.50)