A Contrasting Experience
This is another of those reviews that I find difficult to write. Not because
Sarti is bad - in fact if we were to only take the food into consideration, we would consider it excellent. However owing to a few unfortunate circumstances on the night we visited, we went home feeling let down. Perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself, allow me to explain.
We rang Sarti, a one-hat Italian restaurant on Russell Place just off Little
Collins, midweek to make our Saturday evening booking. We were offered a
table on their outdoor terrace, which is undercover, heated and was indeed
quite comfortable even on a chilly Melbourne evening. What was important to
us was that this outdoor area was non-smoking, which we were assured over the phone
that it was.
No more than ten minutes after we were seated however, it became apparent that the uncovered balcony that is directly attached to the terrace is the designated
smoking area of the restaurant. There is no physical barrier to air flow. So my
advice to you is that if you don't want to have your food and wine contaminated
by wafts of tobacco, get a table inside or go elsewhere.
It is a shame that such an event occurred, as it certainly marred our experience. Nevertheless, I shall move on.
When we arrived and were seated on the aforementioned chilly evening we
immediately settled in to peruse the wine list. We began with a Silver Wings Brut Rose from the
Macedon Ranges ($56), which is a region that produces many excellent sparkling wines produced in the methode traditionelle style.
We were dining as a small group, so ordered a few entrees and ended up sharing between
the five of us. Ordering was facilitated by our wait staff who helpfully explained
many of the Italian terms with which we were unfamiliar. Our selection included
'Lumache al tartufo'(pigs ear salad, potatoe tuille, $16), Shallow fried calamari,
‘cauliflower giardiniera’, tartare foam($16), and Potato, 'smoked scarmoza' and 'speck suppli'
($14). Unfortunately we also ordered the 22 hour cooked duckling leg, 'capuccio agrodolce' and chilli
($16), which never arrived. When this was brought to the attention of the staff it was happily
removed from the bill, but it was still another disappointment for us.
Unlike the non-food related experiences, mains certainly did not disappoint. My
Braised suckling lamb, ‘lambascioni’, pink fir potatoes and truffled pecorino($34)
was gloriously rich and tender. Sarah's Marinated pork ‘in mirto’ oven roasted served with blood orange glaze($33) would have been my second choice, so I was glad when the Gourmet Wife
acquiesced to my hovering fork, another wonderful dish. One of our dining companions chose
one of the specials, so unfortunately I cannot provide you with the correct Italian name. It
was in fact a chocolate pasta, with rare venison and blueberries. It was certainly a little
out of left field (at least to me), but it worked.
As I did not have the chocolate main, I of course had to finish with the
'Crema cotta al ciocolatto', chocolate soil, 'gelato di ricotta'($16). Sarah went
with the more adventurous 'Pistacchio panna cotta', caramel salted popcorn($16),
once again an interesting combination of flavours that comes off extremely well.
A couple of cheese platters($13-18), and some complimentary Limoncello later (by way of apology
for some of our previous issues) and we were back out into the brisk Melbourne air.
In summary, I'd have to say Sarti had a bad evening. I'm not willing to give up on this
place because of our experiences of this one night. The food is too good to do it the
disservice of writing it off because of fellow patrons smoking in the vicinity. I'll be
back there, and I encourage others to go, just sit inside.
NV Silver Wings Brut Rose
Leeuwin Estate Cabernet Merlot