Spatula, Spoon and Saturday

Eating and Cooking all the things in Melbourne

Melbourne Food Review: Lento, South Yarra

It is a very unfortunate thing when you discover a fabulous restaurant by accident, it gave you such a great impression and got you excited with its genuine, interesting. good food and then you never to get around to blogging about it until months later. So now you fear you won’t do it justice. That or maybe you start wondering if it was all in your head in the first place.

Such is life. And naturally I’m digressing.

We rocked up to South Yarra (not an area I frequent) to attend the monthly company drinks which were held at, of all places, a posh car dealership. As I can only get so much networking (with fairly limited drinking ability in my current condition) done with my fellow nerds-in-suits, I still needed to eat dinner. We searched around for a restaurant nearby on the interweb and decided on Lento.

Lento (Josh didn’t quite understand why you would name your restaurant ‘slow’ in Italian but he is a music boy and not a foodie boy, innit) is a slow food Italian restaurant. Now I still have no freaking idea what slow food is meant to be because I have seen it being arsed around so much so I would just not comment but suffice to say, in food terms, slow is now good (as at 2010).

(our complimentary bread)

The restaurant was quite empty on a Friday night. We were seated away near the back bar with a stuffed goat on a pedestal. Now aside from this interesting choice of decor, it was a lovely, quiet dining room. We pondered over the menu a bit – and I am happy to report that the menu was interesting. It’s one of those quirks I have, I don’t ask for much when I go out to eat, I just need to food to be well thought out and interesting, well executed and doesn’t cost the earth. Too much? Lento ticks all the boxes here.

(Duck and goat’s cheese agnolotti – with duck jus, rocket and raspberry coulis $24.00)

We both decided on pasta because even the side dishes were interesting. We love our side dishes (I don’t know how often I say this but I will keep saying it) I measure a restaurant’s competence by the care they take into designing and executing their side dishes. Josh went for duck and goat’s cheese agnolotti – sounds interesting, right? It was good too. The raspberry sauce went amazingly well with the tasty duck and goat’s cheese filling. And the peppery rocket leaves brought together the flavours nicely.

(Broccolini with crispy onion and shaved parmesan – $8.00)

Our first side dish was broccolini which was perfectly cooked – not too soft and not too green – with crunchy onion strips and bits of parmesan and a bit of oil dressing. Yum. We had broccolini on the menu at home for weeks after that.

(Buckwheat chitlara spaghetti with crab, tomato, coriander and chilli – $23.00)

I decided on the chitlara spaghettin with crab, tomato, coriander and chilli. Because sometimes I am just predictable. While the flavours and the ingredient combination did not disappoint, I have to say I miss the al dente semolina pasta. Eating soft pasta is like eating an overripe fruit.

(Garlic green beans with egg, anchovy, cherry tomatoes and olives – $8.00)

Our side dish number two was just  a little more complicated. Garlicky green beans, perfectly cooked, tossed with messy, eggy, olivey, tomatoey, anchovy mixture. Come on, how can something that messy not be delicious? It was definitely very yummy. Some times I wonder if it would be bad form of me to just go in and order four different side dishes and no mains. Kudos to all the restaurants that pay attention to the humble vegetable side dishes and do them well.

(Panettone trifle – with amaretto custard, berries and moscato jelly – $13)

We closed off the night with dessert. I am normally not a dessert person (this has now changed – pregnancy has developed a ridiculous sweet tooth for me) but when I go to a restaurant and the main meals and the side dishes are good and well thought out, I try desserts because they’re likely to follow that same fabulousness. Their Panettone ‘trifle’ did not disappoint. My only complaint was it was so damn hard to lick the glass!

A definite successful night out. In South Yarra, no less. Who woulda thunk it?

Address: 304 Toorak Rd, South Yarra, VIC 3141
Phone: (03) 9827 7541

This time last year, I ate at:Supper Inn, Chinatown, Melbourne CBD