Vini, Surry Hills
I got up early one morning to head to the October Growers Market at Pyrmont before attending day 2 of OzIA conference at Star City. It was a miserable weekend weather wise, but the crowds still turned out for the first official event of the Sydney International Food Festival.
After a fabulous day conferencing, I headed home, exhausted from my early start, and keen for a night on the couch. Saddled with my laptop and the Saturday papers I headed to Pizza E Birra to grab a pizza, then shuffled home in the rain, realising I’d left my umbrella at the conference. Wasn’t a hassle I thought, I was mere steps from dryness, the couch and home.
I got to my front door, and gingerly placed my pizza box on my newspapers to fish my keys out of my bag. I kept fishing, and fishing, and eventually realised they were nowhere to be found! F*&^k! S*&t! Bugger! At this point many of my neighbours had come and gone offering to let me in the building. But as I live in a secure building I would’ve just been stuck in the stairwell! Unfortunately for me, Boyfriend had just left to go to Campbelltown of all places, on the outskirts of Sydney, and as he was dependent on a lift, it was not possible for him to rescue me!
What to do? The local pub! I went and timidly asked if I could settle in with my pizza in a quiet corner and wait. They were incredibly kind and offered to let me stay past closing if it was necessary. It was around 6:30pm and I had given my boyfriend until midnight to get home and let me in…
Lucky for me, I had my iPhone, so commenced tweeting about my dire situation. All responses were kind and sympathetic, from offering to get me a locksmith, to providing suggestions for shelter, for at this point it was pissing down with rain.
Feeling like a gatecrasher, and severely under-dressed, we handily find a parking spot right across the road. We’re seated in the bar round the back (a former shipping container), order a drink form the too-cool-for school waiter, and wait for our other dining companions to join us.
Within about 5 minutes they arrive and we’re seated, and we commence perusing the menu. We end up ordering one of everything that doesn’t contain pork…We seem to have thoroughly confused the waitress. I think she took us a little too seriously 😉
We start with antipasti of deep fried school prawns with herbs and chilli, but none of us see or taste any chilli, then crostini with mushrooms and taleggio. Unfortunately for you, we ate these all pretty damn quick, so no pictures. But there are pictures of our mains!
First up, ravioli of salt cod with asparagus, cherry tomatoes and marjoram..
I love the contrast between the salty, salt cod, the texture of the pasta, the acidity of the tomatoes and the crunch of the asparagus..a lovely light summery dish.
We then tuck into a lasagna of eggplant, tomato, mozzarella and peas…
Hmmm, not a success this dish. The eggplant tasted like pureed, unseasoned baba ghanouj, and was completely off in terms of contrasting flavours and textures. A bit slimy and a bit odd against the lightness and freshness of the beautiful spring peas and tomatoes..
We then moved on to our secondi, a pan fried ocean trout with capers, roast tomatoes, broad beans and peas..
One of the most successful dishes of the night, I love fresh broad beans and peas!
The sirloin was replaced with rump, still chargrilled with roast fennel, red onions and porcini butter. We all devoured this!
Our delicious side dish of greenbeans with hazelnuts came out well after most of our dishes as it appeared to be forgotten… When it did arrive it dazzled with it’s simplicity:
And so to the tummy break and then dessert.
The dessert menu is a lovely spread of Italian classics: watermelon and limoncello granita, cannoli, vinsanto with cantuccini and panforte. We order the star dessert: ricotta panacotta with espresso caramel, a cannoli, and the almond and blueberry tart with mascarpone…
I love the smooth, rich pannacotta, cut with the tart, slightly bitter espresso caramel, with the nuts to add some crunch. Definite star of the night.
The menu at Vini felt a bit inconsistent with some great hits, but one or two misses. The service, being Surry Hills, had a bit of unnecessary attitude. One of our side dishes was forgotten and brought out at the last minute, so overall I was somewhat disappointed, feeling the hype didn’t match the service and food. But nonetheless, food and good company are always a recipe for a fabulous night, especially when rescued from awfulness of locked out-ed-ness!
And yes, I had two dinners 😉
3/118 Devonshire St
(Entrance on Holt St)
02 9698 5131