Monday, April 03, 2006

Da Cellini

This is more like it....more like what I really want to be posting about. The things I enjoy, rather than the things that angry up the blood. In accordance with our monthly tradition, Kit and I went out for dinner on Saturday, this time to Da Cellini in Braddon. Situated on the corner of Eloura and Lonsdale Streets, Da Cellini has the unfortunate honour of facing both a service station and a used car dealership on opposite corners. Then again, this is Braddon we're talking about, so for anyone looking for something convenient, but still just outside of Civic, this type of view is pretty much par for the course. That being said, the interior was laid back and comfortable, with dark woods and exposed brick, and an open view to the functional stainless steel kitchen. With the blinds closed you could very easily imagine you weren't in the middle of an industrial/commercial suburb.

We started by sharing the antipasto platter, which was a sizeable assortment of balsamic-marinated mushrooms, black olives, chorizo sausage, marinated eggplant, roasted capsicum, frittata, fried squid, oven-roasted tomoatoes and grilled zucchini, surrounding a bed of lightly dressed rocket. I guess I must have some kind of restaurant savvy, because both Kit and I commented on how similar our own antipasto presentation is at home, even down to the plating and layout. The mushrooms were just marinated long enough to infuse them with flavour, without letting the balsamic vinegar become overpowering, and even Kit, who doesn't eat tomatoes, was impressed with the sweetness of the oven-roasted tomatoes. Unfortunately, the eggplant, which is normally one of my favourite parts of any antipasto, was sliced so thinly that there wasn't enough flesh to give any sense of taste other then the oil it was marinated in, and unfortunately, no bread came with the platter, or was even offered as a side, which was disappointing.

For mains, we had the chorizo and tomato risotto, and the salmon special, consisting of a salmon fillet served on a salad of roasted potatoes, avocado and roasted capsicum. The risotto was nicely proportioned, with plenty of chorizo to give it some spice, but not much else in the way of discernible flavours. The salmon was well presented, the green avocado, red capsicum and white potatoes perhaps a hint to the Italian influence of the cuisine. To my taste, the salmon was just a touch overcooked, and the potatoes could have been a little crispier, to properly contrast with the softness of the avocado, however the flavours did work very well together.

Desserts are always best shared, so we decided to split scoops of lemon and vanilla gelato, and a slice of Black Forest Cheesecake, all of which was apparently made on premises. The gelato was everything one could expect, and the vanilla and lemon combination actually worked well with the soft texture and tart berry flavour of the cheesecake. Completed with espresso, it was definitely an enjoyable evening.

Overall, the service was friendly without being too obtrusive, albeit with a slight "Kath and Kim" edge. The atmosphere was cosy and inviting, after the sun went down, although the music definitely needs to be changed- pan-pipe classics, and muzak hits of the 90's sounds more like something you'd here in an elevator or a David Jones changeroom than a restaurant. At $90 for the two of us, without drinks, it was bordering on overly pricy, considering very similar dishes are offered at several Civic cafes, however just being able to get out of Civic was a nice change that made it worthwhile

Da Cellini
Bottom line: $90
We tried: Shared entree, 2 mains, shared dessert, coffee, BYO
Value for money: Average
Food: Standard Italian-inspired cafe/restaurant cuisine
Atmosphere: Friendly and cosy...if you can ignore the music


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