My better half announced he wanted Italian for lunch. I declared I wanted to eat somewhere we hadn't been before. 1.25 hours later we both got what we wanted.
My first thought was to head for Enoteca on Lygon Street, Carlton North. Just to prove the grass wasn't greener on the other side we headed to Rathdowne Street, the touristy end of Lygon, the less touristy end, Gertrude Street, Brunswick Street, St. Georges Road, Smith and even Sydney Road. Yes we did them all and ended up where we had started, Enoteca on Lygon. I'm not convinced the grass wouldn't have been greener elsewhere.
It's hard to put your finger on it but somehow it just didn't make for a satisfying lunch. The service is fine, the produce excellent but there was a strong feeling that this was a meal you could make at home after a quick visit to the Mediterranean Wholesalers and you'd be certain to avoid a bill on the wrong side of $100. I love a good meal out as much as the next girl but inevitably feel disappointed when I don't get my money's worth.
We started with one of the assaggini- potato croquette with smoked mozzarella. My better half declared it reminded him of dining hall meals during his university days. Probably not the desired effect.
His pasta of rocket, sausage and cherry tomatoes was simple and comforting but would probably have been more at place eaten in front of the TV. My saffron risotto with veal shank didn't have a whiff of saffron about it and when you're nearing the $30 mark it probably wasn't the time to get stingy with the veal. There was nothing complicated about the preparation to justify the prices.
We finished with a beautifully presented but disappointing tiramisu which pretty much summed up our experience. This place has a great feel and it's hard to fault the concept but the food left me thinking perhaps the grass was greener on the other side. Rathdowne Street anyone?