Friday, February 3, 2012

Albert Street Food and Wine

This is a story of two girls. They met on twitter after one of them posted a blog post about the other's work place. They chatted now and again on the microblogging platform. They also decided they should eventually get a meal together.

After a couple of misplaced eating dates, one trip out eventually pushed through. At Albert Street Food and Wine. There they met, ate, drunk and chatted until they were the last to leave the restaurant, when the clamour and buzz had died down and the windows were dark.

Albert Street really ended up being the perfect spot for them to meet. It was bright with the sunny evenings Melbourne has been having, clean without being too slick and just very comfortable to be in. The crowd was lively and cheery chatty could be heard all evening.

The girl that blogged food (and had a camera) loves yellow. So Albert Street wooed her aesthetically with it's cheery pops of sunshine.

The two of them took forever to order. The poor waitresses must have returned to the table, many, many times, until they actually opened up the wine list. Although they ended up talking to the waitress anyway and asking for recommendations, who was quite knowledgable and more than happy to oblige.

Bread arrived, nice and cosy in a bit of brown paper with a basil oil butter. A slightly different twist to the usual.

Whilst cheese came up in conversation, it seemed much more appropriate to start with the charcuterie plate, the small one of course. So that we could eat even more later!

With a rustic air, on it's cute little wooden board, the selection looked like a treat. This particular night the girls nibbled on pistachio salami (the addition of nuts was marvelled at), bresaola with a gentle hint of spice and spicy salami that made one of the girls exclaim: Face is burning! Oh and a couple of ribbons of cured pork cheek which were lusciously fatty and terrible.

A recommendation to try the Baccala with 'green goddess' (a mix of capers, asparagus, artichoke and olives) and grilled bread had been made and accepted. 'BaccalĂ ' means salt cod in Venetian. And well, salty the baccala was! But not overwhelming so, it was really quite tasty, but both the girls felt there wasn't enough bread for the amount of Baccala served!

Everyone who had visited Albert St, prior to the girls visiting, seem to rave on about the heirloom carrot soup, vin santo, scallops. Carrot soup? What could be so fascinating? The girls ordered one portion which was kindly split into two bowls, which was just as well. It was still a lot of soup!

The vivid hue was warm and charming and the flavour, godsend. Mmm's and aah's filled the space. It was delightfully sweet, with little hidden bits of perfectly cooked scallop. Light, yet creamy, the soup was perfect.

They couldn't resist the squid ink risotto, with cuttle. Although it came looking a bit heavy and oily, it was surprisingly light and absolutely delicious. The rice was al dente and it was quite an interesting twist to the typical Italian-mama risotto. It was clear the mediterranean influence was here. The cuttle added a smooth and contrasting texture to the al dente rice grains.

The last main, beef tri tip with anchovy caper butter, looked a treat. A delightfully rosy shade on the inside, the meat was very tasty, although the anchovy caper butter really gave it a good kick of salt. At this point, sides might not have been a bad idea earlier, but they stuck to it and finished it all anyway. It would be a shame to waste the beef!

A brief interlude with peppermint tea to aid the digestion. The girls had talked food, cooking classes in Italy, photography, tennis and family. Yet they were still not finished, and they called over for the dessert menu.

After such a feast you would think they would be full, but no. Both girls professed a love for the sugar, the sweet, the sinful to your teeth. They ordered two. Two whole desserts!

The menu had been changed quite recently since opening, as one girl (with the camera) was looking forward to trying out the truffle pannacotta, to find that it had been replaced by a pistachio pannacotta.

Such as it was, she instead decided to order 'Coeur a la creme' with apricots and golden raspberries. With a single rosemary leaf on it, not to be eaten, but to infuse flavour into the mix of yoghurt, cream cheese and…well, cream. It was the perfect note to end the night on. Light and airy, the tang of yoghurt, and sweetness being added by the fruit. She may have had multiple cravings for this dessert since.

The other girl (the one without the camera), loves cooked peaches and chose the amaretti semifreddo with a roasted peach. Beautiful. The peach was perfect and not too sweet and the semifreddo really fulfilled that need for something ice-creamy. A great combination of flavours.

As they licked the last bit of sweetness off their spoons, the waitress came by to clear their plates, commenting that they really got the best of the menu that night!

Albert St had provided the girls with somewhere smart, yet very enjoyable to be in. It was the perfect dining atmosphere, the food was creative and delicious, service was always delivered with a smile and although there was slight disappointment at no 'snickers' dessert being available....this time.

Since the visit, there have been dreams of the 'Coeur a la creme' and temptations of random dessert runs just to have it....

Albert Street Food and Wine

382 Sydney Rd
Brunswick, VIC 3056

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