Welcome to Melbourne Foodie. The blogspace of a young foodie with a passion for cooking, fine dining and quality food and produce. Melbourne Foodie, along with the other sources I write for is my way of casually expressing and recording some of the experiences I have had for others to enjoy. I always welcome any feedback, comments or restaurant suggestions you may have and would love to hear from you soon.

MUST VISIT SOON: Livingroom, Hare & Grace

MOST RECENT FEASTINGS: Pei Modern, Sarti, PM24, Vue de Monde

BLOG OF THE MOMENT: I Eat Therefore I Am

Happy eating,

Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Sarti Ristorante
Sarti can probably be described as a very Melbourne restaurant. You walk up a small staircase into a bustling dining room - there's a bar in the middle of the room, where one can sit and have a drink and tables (inside and out) around the room. Its noisy and buzzing, but still pretty casual; and the service probably reflects this style. Personally I don't really like being referred to as "mate" or "buddy" by a maitre de when I'm going out for a nice meal, but that withstanding, the staff do know their stuff, and make an effort to please, even if it does involve five different waitstaff throughout the course of a meal.

To be fair I have visited Sarti twice over the past six months or so, and they were two rather different dining experiences - the food on both visits being quite impressive, but I guess the service is what really made the difference; the first episode being far too laxed, whilst the second being simply flawless from start to end. Episode one was also a little hit and miss with some of the food; whilst the second take was completely on the mark - so I guess as long as the mix of variables is right on the evening you are destined to do very well.

The menu at Sarti can best be described as modern Italian and is broken into pastas, smaller and larger plates and sweets. From everything I have read and heard about Sarti before and after my visits, the consensus seems to be that the stuzzichini (shared small dishes, like entrees) are the way to go: where you can structure a meal that will deliver on taste. The mains and pastas are consistent enough, but it is these smaller plates that best highlight the kitchens' creativity and these dishes were largely the basis of my experiences.

Here's a look at some of the hits you might enjoy:

Zucchini Flower: A gorgeous tempura battered zucchini flower filled with a delicate, shredded crab meat farce - light, crispy pefection.

Shallow fried calamari, pickled cauliflower ‘giadiniera’, tartare foam:
Beautiful tender pieces of calamari coated with a crispy polenta crust. The fritti sit on a bed of pickled cauliflower shreds and a light tartare foam, providing two different layers of acidity to break up the dish. The only downfall- excessively salty, but still very much enjoyed.

Calabrian Chilli Crab:
Crispy pieces of fried crab meat, resting on sweet stewed peppers. Not for the chilli-shy: This one really packed a punch.

Tempura Crab Claw:
Gorgeous, fresh, sweet crab meat served with a chilli-salt- Simple prefection.

Gyoza filled with 'cime di rapa', saute of morton bay bugs, basil seeds:
A really nice pasta dish- lots of delicate flavour, perfectly cooked and pretty as a picture. Again, difficult to fault.

Sauteed venison liver with caramalised onions and chickpeas:
A dish I should have loved & really wanted to love - but ultimately a failure. The liver was requested rare, but served cooked right through to an unpleasant level. A replacement dish had the same issue and for me was inedible. Apologies were made - and the dish no longer sits on the menu.

Braised veal cheeks, purple cauliflower cous cous, prosciutto consomme, black rice:
Another dish thats certainly not shy of the sodium, but the flavours were really beautiful. The most tender veal, parcelled and resting atop the toasted rice and other accompanishments, finished with a clear salty prosciutto broth poored at the table. A well executed main plate.

Chocolate and Orange:
Frozen candied orange, blood orange granita, chocolate sorbet and so much more - The bitter and sweet elements worked so well against each other to create a dish which was stunning in both aesthetics and taste. A very passionate waiter guided me through the preparation of the dolce, including the granita: house-made from fresh blood orange juice the restaurant imports from Italy.

White chocolate and native pepper cream, vin cotto, peanuts, apples:
After consuming several bottles of vino I can't remember too many intimates about this one- but needless to say it was lighter way to end the meal, and well enjoyed.

Overall I think Sarti is undoubtedly a great dining experience, where you can enjoy some excellent food in a casual (and noisy) environment; with service which is knowledgable, but relaxed. You could certainly call it a very "Melbourne" dining experience, but for me I don't quite know whether it is consistent enough to be hat worthy - the first take was miles off, whereas my second visit suggested the restaurant certainly deserves its accolades. I guess more research on my part is definitely necessary before I can make a final judgement - well thats my excuse for wanting to head back soon anyhow.
Sarti has been awarded One Chefs Hat and a score of 15/20 in the Age Good Food Guide between 2009-2012.

MY RATING (based on both visits): 14.5/20 - Food 7.5/10 Service 3.5/5 Ambience 3.5/5


update: September 2012 - I have now eaten at Sarti another 5 times and have enjoyed amazing food and good, professional service on every occasion.

NEW RATING: 15+/20  - Food 8+/10 Service 3.5+/5 Ambience 3.5/5

Sarti on Urbanspoon

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  posted at 8:22 AM  

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Name: Jon!

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