Saturday, October 18, 2008

Guiseppe Arnaldo and Son (Crown- Southbank)

Yet another bistro restaurant in the Crown complex with an entrance from both the Yarra walk at Southbank or from the ground floor at Crown. I have waited for the smoke and fire that accompanied the opening of this restaurant before paying it a visit. They have a policy of no reservations but when you arrive they tell you about how long you will have to wait.There is a wall of coloured paper sheets offering a variety of generally complementary or amusing comments at each end of the restaurant.Tables are small and parties of three are seated at tables barely big enough for two.The menu looks interesting and the the cooking certainly didn't disappoint. We started with Ribollita described here as a classic minestrone, risini, air dried ricotta. ($15)I have always thought of this as a reboiled soup from the previous day with anything left over added to the pot. This often makes for a better tasting soup than it started. Regardless GAS make it extremely tasty. We followed this with Clams Casino' a mixture of clams, periwinkles, guanciale,chicory and hot ciabatta Served in a heavy, le creuset style pot which kept it warm this simple dish is a main course ($29) but it's not large and we split it as an entree. It's fairly bland with interesting textures. The eggplant 'Parmigiana' baked eggplant, tomato, basil and Parmesan ($14) one of the cheapest things on the menu is a very decent serve, well prepared
- a good solid farmers entree excellent for eggplant lovers.
The most expensive thing on the menu is the 'Bistecca Fiorentina' 1 kg T-bone 100% grain fed Angus, salsa verde, anchovies for 2 or more people ($88), minimum 35 minutes was one of the best steaks I have enjoyed. We specified how we wanted it cooked - warm blue as usual and that's exactly how we got it.and we loved it!
You can wait up to an hour if you want your steak well done!
This was well described by John Lethlean in the Age (Melbourne) Magazine Oct 08 as follows "It is seasoned with olive oil Sicilian salt, Murray river pink salt then served covered in fresh herbs with a pair of anchovies.Served with the bone but cut into manageable chunks ....... sitting on a plain metal dish in a pool of olive oil"
After that we shared a reasonably ordinary but nicely presented spaghetti 'Arrabiata' crab, tomato, chilli baked in a paper bag ($29)

The dessert 'Cannoli' 3 ways, sweetened ricotta, Mocha zabaglione, vanilla custard ($15) was excellent the cannoli being particularly good
Comments: There were a few off notes about this place. I found the waiters in their clinical looking laboratory coats and the oddest assortment of tennis shoes unattractive in a restaurant. The menu is completely inflexible - no variations. The absence of any sort of sauces Bernaise, Hollandaise or whatever failed to impress. Despite the architectural input the place is crowded, the tables are too small and even though larger tables became available the waiters were almost as inflexible as the menu and only moved us with the greatest reluctance.
The food is good solid Italian, it could be called rustic, peasant or farmers food. It's well prepared and we did thoroughly enjoy the meal.
Score: 15/20

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