Our long search for a last minute New Years Eve restaurant yielded in this gem. Fairly new, with only one vote on yelp, it’s popularity allowed us to be seated on the spot, without reservations on one of the busiest nights of the year.
It felt like we were in a cozy secluded basement. The place was modern and fresh. Brighten with lighter colours as a bevy of lighting fixtures. High gloss white tiled floors allowed you to slide in place on your chair. A combination of stucco and edge stone walls lined the room as they refracted light. And a warming bronze and brick fire pit centred the room with its ember glow. The bar was this impressive stretch, half the length of the dining room. Mirrors at the back reflected the shelves of bottles before them. And despite the look of everything else, two small and older television screens were mounted just above the kitchen pass. They played sports on their 14 inch 1980’s glory. I felt as regal as the surroundings that engulfed me. A classic dining establishment with white table cloths and black high backed and well cushioned chairs.
On this evening it was New Years Eve and it was clear in decor and devise you. Multicoloured balloons were clustered in corners and by columns. Giant silver balloons declared to you, “Happy New Year” as lined the entrance. Banners done in sparkles, metallics, and rainbow hung over head. And guests where offered complimentary happy new year headband with feathers or a top had rimmed with the same effect. The patrons were a mature crowd. Grandparents and retirees. Everyone dressed and ready to empress. Friends met and hug. Staff stopped to catch up. This was that friendly Italian neighbourhood feeling I have only seen on television. A room of experience and only us in our 30’s , outside the large group of extended families.
Our wait by the front hostess podium was a short one. As she went to seat another party before us, the bus boys and servers reassured us that we would be helped shortly. From this gesture, I knew we would be in for some great service. After all they nailed the highly important, often neglected greeting.
The menu was a simple to read list. A specific listing for New Year’s Eve. Just the title of the dish under a heading. I found plenty to want on this list of 22 items.
The complimentary basket of bread and butter came at room temperature. The foccicia was made in house and was definitely done fresh. Their version was without the usual assortment of herbs the bread is known for. We were hooked in its chewy and gummy texture. Our server joked that it was a little too good. Though it was hardly enough to tie us over during our longer wait for dinner. The place was busy, it was New Years, I am sure the kitchen was trying its best. Though we grew hungry and impatient. Especially as tables began to pack up and go and their bodies stood up and congregated in path ways. We were surrounded my coats and body parts.
We didn’t realize it was a fine dining restaurant until the plates and their portions arrived. You can always tell by the smaller portions. The food looked so good that you immediately wanted more, but the plate came as so.
When trying Italian, I believe you need to try their pasta for an accurate read on the place. The “squash cappelletti” came recommended from our server. I was pleased to get prawn in my dish; as it wasn’t mentioned on the menu, and I was lead in to thinking this was a vegetarian option. The pasta to prawn ratio was a delightfully even 5:4. The sauce was creamy and with just the right amount of tartness. The fresh cheese spooned over after gave things a perfect salted topping. I just wish I had more of everything in my bowl. But I made sure to sop up as much of the sauce as I could per bite. I couldn’t waste a drop this tasty. And I was surprised that once done, this did more than enough to fill me up with pasta noodle and hearty squash.
The “Rack of lamb” came with a side mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. We requested medium rare, but it came looking rare. There wasn’t a lot of anything, but what came out was delicious. Tender meat, whipped fluffy potatoes and crisp vegetables. Good hearty flavours that came clean and un muddied. The great rub on the lamb gave each bite of the bone a nice crunch. My guest claimed that the meat tasted like beef and he enjoyed tearing off what he could from each chop bone. Things could have used a nice rice pilaf to round off the meal and get you that much more full. He definitely left hungry.
The servers are dressed in black and varied between young women in short skirts and middle aged men in striped ties. Our server was this young bubbly girl, she was friendly and funny with all her quick comments. She genuinely seemed happy and like she wanted to be here. She even took the time to walk her guests to the door, whist wishing them a jovial new year. After several communications with her, I announced to my guest how much I liked her.
On two occasion we observed the head chef coming out of his kitchen to engage with the guests he had been cooking for. From them he heard only praise and laughter. What a nice touch. It is not often that when dining I see the chef, let alone see him trying to make a connection with his patrons.
Would I come back? – Yes. If the food and service is just as good on a non busy and non eventful night. I would like to see how things are during a regular week. Is the food just as good? Are the staff just on point? Does the chef still tour the dining room?
Would I recommend it? – Yes and No. What I had I enjoyed, though as it was New Year’s Eve, it may not be regularly on the menu, and may not be regularly that price, or made regularly in that exact recipe. I need to know their usual and not just their best effort. Don’t deny your cravings.