April 17th, 2009

Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

Review - Bei Amici *UPDATED*


Nearly a year on, I am back dining at Bei Amici (my old review can be found HERE). The rustic Italian cooking of owner/chef Felix Rutz has recently expanded to include a Swiss focus, reflected in the udderly distracting cow art on the walls.


Interestingly the art was drawn by a right handed person with their left hand, showing off the creative side of his brain unfettered (apparently) by this practice. Another new addition to the decor was the amazing woven ball light that cast pretty shadows on the walls, which I liked better than the art.

Perusing the menu while I nibbled on bread, olives and oil, I was glad to see that the Calamari with Pistachios, Cavolo Nero and Fregola with Lemon Dressing ($18) has remained, it was lovely last time.

That said, I was also quite taken with my Snapper Carpaccio ($22) served on a warm bed of white polenta with a mud crab dressing. The warmth made the dish stand up to the cool, rainy weather.

Sadly on the night I dined, Felix was having a well earned rest from cooking the great value Monday Night Special that gives diners three courses for thirty three dollars. I missed his deft hand in seasoning and some of my pleasure was diminished by having to salt every dish I tried. Those that have dined with me will know I rarely reach for the salt. This dish was no exception - Poached Green Asparagus ($18) nicely teamed with a bio-dynamic egg, pecorino and sesame seeds.

The Duck Ragout Gnocchi ($26) was light on the poultry component, but flavoursome anyway with lovely Sicilian olives. The gnocchi was a shade past where I like it best - this seems too often the case with tiny pieces of gnocchi.

This is a Rolled Roasted Veal Neck ($32) from the specials board. While I liked the fresh feel of the dish, I didn't find it particularly tasty. The salt problem was also present.

We had the same wine as our first visit, just a new year - the 2007 Franz Haas Pinot Bianco ($60) which sadly wasn't anywhere near as nice as the preceding year. Until I came back and re-read my notes to see it was a different vintage, I was wondering what I could have possibly seen in the wine originally.

This is the Peach Melba ($13) with poached white peach and raspberry sorbet.

My favourite taste was a sweet Swiss addition to the dessert menu– Torte de Panne ($13) - a flat cake flavoured with fig jam and topped with pine-nuts which ended the meal beautifully. The staff remain friendly and familiar.

Bei Amici

2b Mona Road, Darling Point
Ph: (02) 9328 0305 www.beiamicirestaurant.com.au

Bei Amici on Urbanspoon
Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

Review - Essen *UPDATED*

I don't know if you saw me plug the FREE SCHNITZEL night at Essen Restaurant back HERE but it was too good an offer for even me to pass up. Frankly, at the first sign of chill in the air, I’m always ready to declare that schnitzel season is open. The free offer included a drink. I was very happy with the Schofferhofer Grapefruit ($6.50), a light wheat beer with grapefruit juice that was refreshing, and perhaps the best flavoured beer I’ve tried. It would be a fine designated driver beverage at this restaurant where wine is so well priced that you’d be mad not to sink a few. The 2007 Lenz Moser Pinot Gris ($25.50/bottle, $5.50/glass) from Austria is an easy match for the cuisine.

Before I get to the schnitzel, let me just say that the crumbing here is great, so don’t feel piggish to also include a serve of Deep Fried Tim Boon Organic Camembert ($10) served with cranberry sauce. Owner/chef Geert Elzinga has picked an excellent cheese, and I murmur quiet thanks over each golden crumbed wedge.

I was very happy to wrap myself in a Chicken Jaeger Schnitzel ($21) complete with excellent potato roesti and paprika sprinkled cabbage salad.  My dining companion had a Veal Diane Schnitzel ($21). These were FREE on the night we dined!

Even if you’re groaning after the hearty mains, stay for dessert – this is where Geert gets to play. His Trio of Custards with Poppy Seed Sponge ($10) gives you three small pots of light, creamy custard and a wedge of cake to explore them.

Elegance and pleasure abound in his Strawberries in Jelly with Meringue, Mint and Vanilla Sauce ($10). These desserts were on a par with my last visit (see it HERE), but I was even happier to see Geert is constantly developing and changing the menu. Keeping dessert fresh makes visiting for a schnitzel even more fun!

Everything is more fun with schnapps. I tried the Lindenhof Peppermint Schnapps ($5.50) which is 21% and very enjoyable.  My dining companion found the Schwartzwalder Obst Wasser Pear ($5.50) which was 40% a bit harder going - excellent aroma though!

Another really enjoyable experience, which I will return for again before the weather warms.

Essen Restaurant
133-135 Broadway, Ultimo
Ph: (02) 9211 3805

Essen Restaurant & Beer Cafe on Urbanspoon