Despite the website ostensibly offering up a phone number for bookings, my advice is: don’t call Lolli Redini for a table. When we made that particular mistake, we were - somewhat rudely - redirected to their online ‘booking enquiry’ system. Two days after making our online booking enquiry, we were offered a table at 6pm, two hours earlier than the time we had requested. As Lolli Redini has a good reputation in the Orange region, we decided to dine anyway...
We dutifully rock up for dinner while there was still plenty of light in the sky, giving us a gander at the restaurant's domestic exterior, partially obscured by leafy green trees. Hearing the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s Take Five the moment we walked in the door - the only quintuple time (5/4) song ever to make the charts – distracts us from actually meeting the man with the heavy European accent who refused to take our phone booking.
We’re quickly settled in the compact front room, along a well-cushioned red banquette that runs the length of the restaurant. Above our heads looms a mantelpiece, and above it, the rich red feature wall is adorned with a Martin Sharp print he designed in 1977.
The neighbouring tables are set at a distance I’d describe as intimate, but the awkwardness is eased by the prompt arrival of bread and wine. The 2017 Borrowed Cuttings Piquepoul Blanc ($12/150ml) from Cowra is elegant, with softly cushioned but driving acidity. While touted as an oyster wine, the Lolli Redini team have matched it to their Mauri Gorgonzola Dolci soufflé.
This creamy, twice-baked blue cheese soufflé is one of three on offer on the menu, which you can enjoy as Two Courses ($75/person) or Three Courses ($95/person). While this version isn’t the Heidi Gruyere soufflé stalwart that has not budged from the menu since they opened in 2001, I’m a big fan of the soft, marshmallow-like texture contrasting with sharp cheese. The rich intensity is cut with roasted walnuts, batons of juicy beurre bosc pear, and lemony red vein sorrel leaves.
The Piquepoul is a particularly great match for the soufflé, and I’d also argue that’s true for the Moonlight Flat Claire de Lune rock oysters, despite the menu offering up a frothy 2015 Ross Hill Blanc de Blanc Sparkling Chardonnay ($16/120ml). Teamed with Champagne granita and cucumber brunoise then garnished with lacklustre Spanish Avruga caviar (it's not a patch on briny, fishy Beluga). The caviar was so lightly flavoured, it got a bit lost. Overall the six oysters were good, without being exceptional.
Despite the shaky telephone start, in person, staff are uniformly excellent. Plates are cleared before you even have time to think they should be. My Rhubarb Mojito ($22) is delivered at the same time as more wine, with the two waiters silently anticipating each other’s steps with the elegance of ballet dancers in a pas de deux.
The 2017 Philip Shaw Pink Billy Saignee ($12/150ml) is a beautiful, savoury rosé that still doesn't skimp on berry fruit. While it’s not the assigned match for the pasta ‘rotolo’ it suits the dish well. Sitting on sweet roasted butternut pumpkin, the loops of toothsome pasta have a festive Christmas stuffing feel, combining the textures and flavours of Cremona mustard fruits, Persian feta, lemon, sage and pine nuts with shavings of truffled pecorino and crisp amaretti crumbs. It’s clever and likeable, wanting only for a whisker of salt to balance the butternut pumpkin’s intense sweetness.
Astute wine service sees a taste of the 2014 Two Hands Aerope Grenache ($32/150ml) arrive when we order a glass to consume with our Rangers Valley Black Market Angus brisket. It’s far from your standard, jammy Grenache, and the clever unasked for taste prompted us to switch to the 2015 Patina Reserve Chardonnay ($16/150ml). With big French oak and creamy lees, this rich, textural white rises to meet the opulent dish that showcases three textures of brisket against silky sweet potato, honey-glazed heirloom carrots, buttered spinach, eschallots, mustard cream and horseradish. Matter of fact, under a scattering of textural thyme pangrattato - Italian fried breadcrumbs – this dish eats a bit like Christmas too.
Even a Wild Rocket ($12.50) side has a touch of opulence about it, with a glistening avocado flower perched on top of premium leaves, roasted macadamias and more juicy beurre bosc with Parmesan shavings to balance its sweetness. Amidst the backdrop of a rapidly filling dining room that’s noisy but convivial, it’s easy to see why Lolli Redini is Orange’s favourite celebration spot.
48 Sale Street, Orange
Ph: (02) 6361 7748