Review by CJ
Prior to seeing Wil Anderson’s show Fire at Wil at the Comedy Theatre last week, I decided to seek out sustenance. Despite having passed Locanda restaurant, I traipsed down Lonsdale Street only to find the other restaurants I would usually patron were too full or (alas!) closed down.
I had another browse on my way back to the theatre but nothing caught my eye. Realising it was getting late, I wandered in to Locanda. Upon entry, I thought the restaurant looked welcoming and the mood lighting was delightful.
As the maitre d’ showed me to my table though, I noticed something most casual dining facilities don’t have — oil lamps on each table. I was seated and the maitre d’ placed my cloth napkin across my lap then (gasp!) asked if I would like still or sparkling water. (Of course, I chose sparkling and now I’m hooked.) It was at this point that I began to wonder if I would need to start a Kickstarter to pay for my meal. When the best bread I have ever tasted arrived with equally delicious butter, I moved to wondering which kidney would fetch the best price.
Oh, well, I thought. In with a penny, in with a pound. I don’t eat at fancy restaurants very often so I decided to enjoy the experience while I was there.
To start with I decided on the slow cooked high country pork belly with parsnip cream, slated crushed peas, and crisp onions.
I’ve only had a couple of experiences with pork belly and they were all lovely but this pork belly was beyond lovely. It was moist, tender and perfectly seasoned. The parsnip cream wasn’t to my personal taste but was aside from the meat so could easily be avoided. The slated peas and the crispy onions were a nice accompaniment.
For the main, I chose veal parmigiano with lemon, parmesan and oregano crust, smoked ham, Napoli sauce, garden salad, and crunchy fries.
The main was a sensory overload in the best possible way. The tender veal was surrounded by a crunchy crust then topped with a rich Napoli sauce, smoked ham and melted cheese. That in itself was a combination of flavours that could have been too much yet somehow they all worked together. The crunchy fries were in fact crunchy and perfectly seasoned. The garden salad was delightful and didn’t hide any of those fancy ingredients like olive, capsicum or feta cheese that should be reserved for fancy salads, not garden salads. Overall the main was my favourite course of the evening.
Next up was dessert for which I selected lamington sponge sandwich, baileys mascarpone, orange marmalade and boysenberry ice cream.
Hands down, the dessert was the most interesting lamington I have ever eaten. While it was a bit dry, that’s a common ailment amongst lamingtons and nothing a few sips of sparkling water couldn’t fix. The boysenberry ice-cream was delightful, the tiny mint leaves were refreshing little bursts and the orange marmalade added a nice tang. Overall though, it was a lamington not too unlike many others. That’s by no means a bad thing, but it was my impression of the dessert.
The staff at Locanda were friendly, helpful and welcoming. The service between meals was fast and efficient. The atmosphere was modern decadence at its best.
At a final price of $76, Locanda was not as expensive as I initially feared. For a three course meal with very decently sized portions, I was very impressed with the final tally. If you’re looking for a restaurant for a special night out or just want to treat yourself, I would recommend considering the cuisine at Locanda.
Screw Flanders. Er, I mean ‘bon appetit’.
Locanda is at 186 Exhibition Street, Melbourne VIC 3000.