After a somewhat hectic week, with international house guests, wedding preparations and some looming deadlines at work, Max and I decided a special Saturday night dinner was in order.
The destination – Il Solito Posto. Between us, we’d receieved at least 5 separate recommendations for this restaurant. So, dressed up (and with a new haircut to boot) we headed into the city to the rather laughably named, ‘Paris End’ of Collins Street.
Il Solito Posto is famed for its modern Italian dishes and rightly so. But what I didn’t expect was the incredibly warm and convivial atmosphere, or the quality and friendliness of the wait staff.
The trattoria section is located in the basement, but this description hardly does it justice. You enter via a narrow corridor and bar area, and then descend a few steps into the atmospheric, cavern-like dining room. Exposed beams and some cleverly arranged wine bottles (both practical and aesthetically pleasing) add to the rustic feel, whilst candles on tables lend a certain intimate quality to the room.
The wine list is impressive, if a little intimidating. Thankfully, on this occasion, I am spared the pressure of a decision. Max has spied a bottle of rosé on the shelf whose colour reminds him of a French rosé (quite different to its heavier, sweeter Australian cousin). Indeed, the taste matches the colour and we savour the rare instance of sharing a bottle of wine over dinner. (Ordinarily I’d order one, maybe two glasses of wine at a stretch and Max prefers to stick with beer).
Delicious fresh bread quiets our rumbling tummies as we tackle the next hurdle – what to eat. I hesitate between two seafood entrees and consider the many pastas for my main. Max is torn between a few delicious-sounding pastas as well, and considers a steak dish or rabbit to follow. There is also the additional temptation of the truffle and butter tagliatelle special to consider.
Finally, after a few fortifying sips of wine and some quickly brokered deals (a bite of my prawns, for a taste of your rabbit?), we settle on our choices.
The entrees arrive and we are far from being disappointed. My prawns have been delicately barbequed and the combination of lemon juice, fregola, cavola nero and just a hint of chilli works astoundingly well together. Max’s pork shoulder ragu penne is robust and flavourful (and way too more-ish, I’m told). I resist a taste as I’ve ordered the same for my main course.
The pasta is indeed delicious, and Max’s rabbit dish is tender and tasty. The criticisms are few and minor; the rabbit is accompanied by a quite bitter radicchio salad that misses a little balance, whilst my pasta lacks the finesse of my first course. Nevertheless, we enjoy every mouthful.
Suitably stuffed, we barely contemplate the idea of a cheese plate, and instead relax and turn our attention to finishing the delicious wine. As we sip the final few mouthfuls we decide without hesitation to return, and soon.
Candlelight image courtesy of McAli333 on Flickr.
French wine image courtesy of mauitimeweekly on Flickr.
Pasta image courtesy of mikko kuhna on Flickr.