Omerta means 'union of families' says the Omerta restaurant website, even though Wikipedia maintains it refers to the code of silence used by the Mafia.
A long communal table runs down the middle of the room, lined with bentwood chairs and ready for a family feast. Above the doorway to the kitchen hang bunches of herbs and heavy industrial grade whisk and beater attachments. You could easily picture a smiling Italian nonna plonking down great big bowls of spaghetti here.
Cured sea scallops, green peas, bottarga, celery cress
We'd booked ourselves in after taking advantage of an online discount offer: $59 for a five course degustation valued at $120. A row of intimate tables for two line one wall, but all the discount degustation diners are all allocated to the communal table.
The cured sea scallops are an impressive start to the meal, thin shavings of sweet and succulent scallop dressed with tendrils of baby celery leaves, bright bursts of green peas and the tiniest smattering of bottargo cured fish roe.
Formaggi gnocchi cracked pepper, raddichio
The second course of formaggi gnocchi is simple: pillows of dough smothered in a rich cheese sauce and garnished with shredded peppery raddichio.
By the time the third course arrives, the light at our end of the table is decidedly challenging. It's a shame, as the braised beef shoulder is superb, a lone cube of beef resting on a puddle of smooth polenta with roasted beetroot and cavolo nero. The beef is hearty in flavour, falling apart with the mere nudge of a fork. It's a tiny-sized portion, made even more painful because it tastes so good.
Cremino al cioccolato
Given that the degustation only ran for five courses, we are surprised to discover that the final two courses are desserts. Add a complimentary palate-cleansing sorbet and our meal ends up comprising of more sweets than savouries.
The cremino al ciccolato is served in cute espresso cups, the Italian meringue topping blow-torched so it looks like a mini cappucino. We dig past the meringue to find a base of rich and dense chocolate mousse, perhaps not bitter enough to balance the sweetness of the meringue.
Gorgonzola, pear, Sardinian flat bread
I can understand why the restaurant has chosen to include a cheese course as a conclusion, but we're left wanting more of an insight into the kitchen's offering, particularly when we see the spectacular parade of dishes leaving the pass. I'm more than happy to finish off the gorgonzola from the blue cheese abstainers in our group, but even then I'm still eyeing the rabbit, pork and prune terrine in the kitchen, and the bowl filled with luscious-looking Italian friend potatoes.
My meal highlight is in fact our seating, right next to the kitchen with a behind-the-scenes view of all the action. It's like a Chefs Table without the fee, and it's a marvel to comprehend the amount of food that can be cooked in an area the size of an average bathroom.
There's barely enough space to plate more than one table at a time, and I'm just happy to sit back and watch the show.
Would I head back? Definitely. Watching the a la carte food leave was too much of a tease.
Don't forget to get your entries in for the $100 gourmet food hamper competition. Entries close tomorrow 9.30pm. Enter now!
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6/06/2011 01:01:00 am