Food and Drink
Posted by Jen Curcio
28. Nov, 2011
Well-to-do bayside suburb Hampton has a pretty, neighbourhood feel to it that exudes charm, especially in the boutiques and shops along the Hampton Street strip. It is surprising then that it wasn’t until this year that the locals had never enjoyed the likes of a real wine bar, which is why when OS arrived it was warmly welcomed and booked out Thursdays to Saturdays (and still is) weeks in advance.
OS does not sit in the same realm as the other Italian restaurants in Hampton. Not because it doesn’t start with an F (Il Forno, Fazio’s) or P (Picasso’s, Pinocchio’s and Poci’s) but because it isn’t a casual family eatery. It is more of a mini bistro, decked out with subtle elegance, not ostentatious but friendly and warm with rustic values.
OS’s owner is Alastair Dobbs, the most recent restaurant manager at Church St. Enoteca in Richmond has built a solid and simple menu alongside Chef Rachel Ginty from St Kilda and Windsor Deli’s and ex-Cicciolina. Think artisan meats and antipasto for entrée, pastas, veal, pork and fish for your main, with an additional chargrilled meat offering (produce, meat and fish supplied locally). This is the greatness of Italian food – its simplicity, flavour and abiliity to leave you feeling full.
Unfortunately my guest (food blogger @BologneseLover) and I forwent all the non-Italian options on the menu. We tried the Goats cheese and leek tart ($17), the special of the night: duck breast on a leek and pumpkin puree ($36). We also sampled the Antipasto (which is Italian!): grissini, frittata, marinated artichokes, cauliflower and capsicum, as well as beans, feta and meatballs ($16). To be honest we were underwhelmed by the flavours, the pastry on the tart was dry and crumbly, the marinated vegetables in the antipasto were too pickled and the duck was unfortunately over cooked.
It was an extremely busy night but we felt the timing of the service was scattered, but most of all we regretted not choosing what our waitress had so highly recommended, the charcuterie selection from the slicer. By that stage we were so full (all portions were very generous) we had no room to test their seemingly delicious desserts: rich chocolate torte with salted ice cream, Pannacotta with jelly and almond biscotti and the cheese with housemade crackers and bread.
Personally, I would return to OS on a quieter night to try the more Italian influenced elements of the menu, which the patrons inside seemed to be raving about on their exodus. There’s no arguing that they have an incredible wine list, mainly European wines but some local drops — all tasteful at reasonable prices, the staff are friendly and professional and the location is perfect for patrons who enjoy a homely yet stylish atmosphere, minus the Brighton droll or price tag.
And the word on the grapevine is that soon there could be even more on offer, a little birdy told us. Hobbs has big plans for the Wine Bar and Kitchen with cooking courses and a few more surprises up his sleeve so stay tuned.
Notes to self:
They have one bathroom cubicle and it is teeny tiny, not a drawing card but something to be aware of. Try the Italian elements of the menu, stay for dessert, choose the olive bread, try to dine inside on a colder night (they don’t have heaters outside).
Finding joy in art, design and retail rarities.
The sequel to The Flavours of Melbourne takes a look behind-the-scenes at some of the city's best loved restaurants.
We get crafty at Crafternoon, the new cafe where you order paint and playdough with you arty latte.