The early diner definitely catches the worm at St. Isidore, because by arriving with enough remaining light, you can take in the restaurant’s luscious green surrounds.
On a brief stroll from your al fresco table, you can cast your eyes over their spacious fowl house.
By going a little further afield, you can take on a cute series of bridges over water.
Walking around their lake you will eventually hit orderly rows of vegetables, forming the restaurant's kitchen garden.
In the distance, the last rays of sunshine illuminate a picture-perfect farmhouse. Take your wine glass with you. We filled ours with the 2015 Ben Haines B Minor Marsanne/Roussanne ($54/bottle) and enjoyed the vista matched to an interesting, textural white.
The combination of clean country air and moist green stuff squelching underfoot helps you work up an appetite. It also works to connect city slickers (like myself) to the land that produces many of the things you’ll later see on your plate.
In the year since I first discovered St. Isidore in the picturesque town of Milton, I've racked up three visits. There’s something very honest and straightforward about the cooking here that I adore, starting with Culatello di Parma ($12) ham with figs, honey, black pepper grissini and scattered basil leaves.
Smoked Mussels ($4/each) give your palate a one-bite kick-start on crisp squid ink crackers with crème fraiche and pickled onion.
Though it’s hard to beat the perfection of simple Tomatoes ($12) bursting with flavour against oozing buffalo mozzarella and a dusting of scallop floss, eaten on heavily charred toast.
Eschewing categories like entrée and main, plates at St. Isidore are arranged by size. We dabbled most heavily in Little before moving on to a pretty plate of Kingfish ($22) that's classed as a Little Bigger. Mingling with juicy wet cucumber, daikon and plum, this dish is a wonderful celebration of the end of the rapidly fading summer season. It simultaneously shows off Chef Alex Delly's skill at balancing big flavours like wasabi and sansho pepper with very delicate fish.
You can see the crossover into autumn in Clam and Prawn Linguine ($22), kept coastal with a shellfish and tomato sauce.
It’s bested by a Bigger Still bowl of Ricotta Cavatelli ($37) that we share with some of the garden’s fine Leaves ($7). The chewy, cheesy marvels are kept light and white with roasted cauliflower, pecorino cheese, and macadamia nuts, all bound together with egg yolk. A handful of peppery rocket leaves finishes off this pasta dish that epitomizes this restaurant’s success: simple, honest fare that pays homage to the bounty of the surrounding garden, paddocks and sea.
NOTE: You can see a previous visit to St. Isidore HERE.
89 Croobyar Road, Milton
Ph: (02) 4455 7261