Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cucina by Candlelight

Firstly apologies for crappy photos. There's only so much a camera phone can do.

Another pleasant dinner with M tonight, this time at Caffe e Cucina on Chapel St. It's an long running establishment that has seen the likes of David Beckham, and serves up Italian fare (obviously) in an intimate setting. Think candlelight, white tablecloths, and 'authentic' Italian waiters.

The first entree was a cheese stuffed zucchini flower battered and deepfried. Moreish and tender - I confess I had no idea that zucchinis had flowers but I'm sure glad they do!
Second entree was calamari and rocket salad with creamy house dressing. Drizzled liberally with lemon, it was in a word: amazeballs.

For mains, M went with the Tortiglioni al ragu siciliano which is cherry tomatoes, eggplant ragu and ricotta. I had the lamb loin and potato gratin. The lamb was nicely cooked and the sauce full of herbs but the potato gratin failed to inspire.
Dessert alas was also a slightly unfortunate affair. I all fairness we probably should've stuck to Italian classics like Tiramisu and Pannacotta but I was looking for something a bit different! M and I shared a chocolate mousse with spiced pears, and lemon scented cream filled profiterole drenched in cream.
Both were oddly spiced. The mousse was as good as anything one might whip up at home, and the aniseed taste of the pears wasn't for me. The lemon scented cream in the profiterole reminded me of lemon scented household cleaner. Not. Very. Good.
The service was polite, but not particularly snappy. There were three staff manning a small upstairs dining room so I would've expected them to be more attentive. They were however, very friendly and I could almost forgive them because of their rather charming accents. Almost.
As for prices, well you don't come here unless you're willing to spend about three times as much as a normal nice dinner but it's not exhorbitant. The music doesn't suit the mood of the restaurant (Stevie Wonder anyone?) and it's intimate (read: close proximity to your neighbours) but lacking privacy.
I'd rate it a cool 6/10.
It was good, but I've certainly enjoyed better for less but I think I would still return, stick to a main serving of the calamari and go around the corner to Ganache Chocolate for dessert.
PS. I have to make a shout out to my dining companion M's necklace. Bought in Soho, New York - it's totally badass as far as jewellery is concerned:
Find them at: 581 Chapel St, South Yarra

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