Reviving the tradition of the Sunday Long Lunch ($55/5 courses), Allegra Dining offers you the chance to make sustainability more than just a buzzword. Allowing the chef to design your meal reduces food waste by enabling them to select fresh produce that needs to be used up at the end of the weekend’s busy period.
Al fresco tables are hard to resist as we say goodbye to the last dregs of hot weather.
Buzz from Kepos & Co adds some energy to the European style courtyard, as does a rule-breaking pooch who cools off in the water feature as we sip our cocktails.
While I opted for a cuisine appropriate Campari Spritz ($13), my dining companion hit up his brunch staple, the Bloody Mary ($13). Allegra Dining's Mary is not the usual thick tomato soup, it also shows good spicing and uses port to add a clever lick of sweetness.
The Mary also turns out to be a great match for our opening snack – a cute sardine sandwich. Before you turn up your nose remembering the stinky fish from a tin your Mum used to slather in tomato sauce and stick on toast under the grill, these are fresh Port Lincoln sardines. They have been butterflied and crumbed, then presented inside another guilty, nostalgic pleasure: highly processed white bread with the crusts cut off. Shiso leaf (rather than basil), house-ketchup and caper aioli kick it up into an exceptional snack that'll leave you salivating for more.
We don't have long to wait; with smoked burrata turning up next. The smoky cheese is presented with Sardinian flatbread (pane carasau) and a wreath of cold cuts and vegetables that manage to leave the cheese as the hero of the dish.
The salad uses nice oil and nice vinegar; we also eat quality focaccia with great salt sitting on the pat of unsalted butter. There’s a level of refinement to everything that has been very consistent across both of my visits.
This process of leaving your multicourse lunch in the hands of the chef also provides an opportunity for experimentation. Not all dishes you eat will be on the current menu – you might get to see dishes that the chefs are playing with for upcoming menus.
We are treated to a burnt eggplant risotto topped with lobes of sea urchin roe, and sea urchin cream, sea spray, chilli oil and crisp rice puffs. It’s a unique dish that eats very well despite it being the first time Head Chef Alex Wong has prepared it.
The well-balanced 2016 Mandala Chardonnay ($14/glass) is a great companion drink, as the dish brings out the wine’s fruity characteristics. It’s a very nice Chardonnay with elegant wood; a tiny bit of butter, and it even copes with warming on this unseasonably hot day.
When our roast chicken alla diavola arrives, it’s clear we won’t be leaving the table hungry. Their ‘devil’s chicken’ has been marinated in fermented chilli and lime overnight, and is served with charred lemon and a gentle capsicum pesto rounded out with ricotta salata and pine nuts. The bird is moist and our shared portion feels generous, as it's sized like a main.
While definitely feeling full, there is always room for a simple, comforting dessert, like apple turnovers. They’re not too sweet allowing you to choose your own sugar level when you drag them through dulce de leche and vanilla bean ice cream.
It’s a good end to a lovely lunch that revives the Sunday long lunch tradition for a very reasonable price, and also gets a big tick for reducing food waste and improving sustainability.
NOTE: This long lunch menu sits alongside Allegra Dining's Sunday brunch, which you can read about back HERE.
8/18 Danks Street, Waterloo
Ph: (02) 9698 1699