Food and Drink
Posted by Trish Gallagher
03. Sep, 2012
There are few places in the city and surrounds where you can sit amongst the lavender and cornflowers on a sprawling timber deck and enjoy a glass of Chianti in the sunshine. Brand new Orto Kitchen and Garden is one of those places where apart from the odd car horn, you could be sitting in a mates garden.
With expertise from owner George Sykiotis of Made Establishment (The Press Club, Mamababa) Sommelier Hazel Benson-Dawe (Union Dining, Hellenic Republic) and Chef Luigi Buono (Café e cuccina., Enoteca Vino Bar and Bond St Wine Bar) has pulled out all the stops when it comes to bring together all the elements of Italian home-style dining. We arrived just after twelve on Sunday with empty stomachs – always dangerous – to a sprinkling of guests so it was easy to find a very sturdy ash and forged steel table on the deck.
The breakfast and lunch menu has a good selection stock standard favourites, baked eggs and canellini beans ($15), toasted house made bread with chocolate and fig jam ($6). I wanted to fancy things up a little so I settled on soft polenta with asparagus, smoked trout and ‘almond egg’ ($19), I was curious to see what this actually was.
I can’t explain how they did it, but here’s my educated guess – a poached egg which is somehow then coated in an almond crust and baked. Maybe? I did ask but this is one of Luigi’s trade secrets and I left knowing that I would be burning a lot of almonds at my cooker in a fevered bid to recreate.
My partner went for the pulled lamb piadine with roasted tomatoes and radicchio ($14). A fan of all things slow cooked, the meat was soft and perfectly stringy as all good slow meats should be. The omnipresent garnish of rocket of course, but the difference is it’s grown in the soil right next to your seat.
Next up, pizza. A hand stretched base that stood to attention when held horizontally. That’s a good sign of good pizza. Draped with chewy procsiutto and studded with buffalo mozzarella, and tomatoes ($18). I haven’t had great dealings with tomatoes of late and today was no exception. It’s just the wrong time of the year and the only one we can blame is Mother Nature. Don’t panic, these will get more red and juicy any day now.
With a glass of Sangovese Chianti picked from a decent list including four reds and four whites by the glass, we were bursting at the seems but when the sweets menu made a reappearance, the words “We’ll have the hot Italian doughnuts with nutella” ($10) just spilled from my mouth. Cinnamon coated puffballs of dough with a dish of nutella to dunk, there was barely a grain of sugar left.
Orto will be releasing their Christmas function packages soon and I couldn’t think of a better place to celebrate the merriment of silly season, but don’t wait until then. The next time the sun is out get down to Hawthorn.
ORTO KITCHEN AND GARDEN
302 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn
Mon-Thurs: from 5pm
Fri-Sun: from 12pm
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