Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Cantina 663, 6050

Cantina constantly turns out wonderful rustic Mediterranean suppers (and amazing scrambled eggs, but that’s another post). I dined here the very first night they opened (hell yes I just claimed that), and the food was as sumptuous back then, as it is now. The menu changes almost fortnightly, but three favourites stay. Gnocchi, duck liver parfait and gnocchi. 
Pan fried gnocchi, tomato sugo, roast carrot, olives, buffalo mozzarella, $25.5
The gnocchi at Cantina is worshipped by just about anyone who has tasted it. Little clouds of soft potato dumpling, lightly pan-fried, and arranged with the season’s best ingredients.  The delicate gnocchi pillows are so soft you don’t even have to chew them. Last week the kitchen paired the gnocchi with tomato sugo, roast carrot, olives and buffalo mozzarella, $25.5. A lovely rustic presentation of full flavours and supple textures. I have ventured outside of ordering gnocchi for dinner at Cantina many a time, and whilst I’ve never been disappointed with my choices, I’ve also never been quite as satisfied. Forget the meat, order the gnocchi. Have I mentioned the gnocchi yet? #gnocchi. 
The Holy Grail
Oh “I don’t like gnocchi”, I hear you exclaim? "Stodgy and gluggy", you say? Even if you despise this so often butchered Italian staple, I can promise you will enjoy Cantina’s creation. This gnocchi will erase all previous memories of starchy gnocchi. 

Oh and we also dined on...

Smooth and creamy duck liver parfait, onion jam, $15; a tin of the Ortiz anchovies, lemon, charred bread, shallots, parsley, $19.50; some of Rosa’s famous chorizo, house pickles, $14; and dunsborough whitebait fritters, tomato orange relish, aioli, $15. The parfait is the stand out of the entrees. The whitebait fritters were a bit doughy and not light and crisp as one imagined.  For mains we enjoyed the sweet and allspice'd jerk chicken, charred corn, sweet potato, spiced dates, $31.5 - a scrumptious nod to Creole cuisine. And also baked veal loin, mustard, crumbs, eggplant caponata, pine nuts, $33.5

Clockwise top left; duck liver parfait, whitebait fritters, baked veal loin and jerk chicken
Dessert time called for chocolate fondant and banana caramel tart with peanut butter ice cream. The tart pastry and melted centre was nothing spectacular, but the mild peanut ice cream was a treat!

Chocolate fondant and banana caramel tart
Food: 4.5/5 (Never been disappointed. Cannot get enough of the rustic Italian and Spanish eats here!)
Coffee: 4/5 (Fiori, always delicious)
Ambience: 5/5 (A little bit Tuscan, a little bit rustic and a little bit Melbourne, great location that soaks up the energy on Beaufort St.)
Service: 4/5 (snappy and knowledgeable, wait staff well versed on the menu and wine list)
Value: 3.5/5

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