Sunday, June 14, 2009

Zest, Nelson Bay

16 Stockton Street
Nelson Bay, NSW 2315 Map

We decided to go to Port Stephens for the Queen's Birthday weekend. It was quite a novelty for me, a Brit, to have a day off to celebrate Queenie's big day, as it isn't a public holiday in the UK.

So, as the weather was lovely, we jumped in the car and drove the couple of hours from Sydney to Nelson Bay. There was a Country & Western music festival taking place in the town, so the place was quite busy and tales of lost loves, train wrecks and faithful dogs echoed from every corner.

We decided to see what we could find for a meal that evening and YourRestaurants on my mobile recommended Zest, a one chef-hat restaurant just around the corner from where we were having lunch.

So, after a brief phone call to see if they could accommodate my vegetarian diet, which they could, we booked a table.

They gave me a choice of dishes and I decided to start with Risotto Milanese followed by a Vegetable Tarte-Tatin.

The risotto was really good. I'd have to say that it was the best Italian dish that I have had so far since arriving in Australia, the peas were fresh and the taste of saffron wasn't too overpowering - it was just right.

The tarte-tatin was a mixture of vegetables, topped with fetta cheese and fennel which gave it a nice citrusy/aniseedy overtone but not too much to overpower the rest of the tastes. It was a very tasty and quite imaginative dish.

One of the desserts on the menu was a sort of rhubarb assiette that included a creme brulee (7), jelly, sorbet and ice cream. I'm not a huge rhubarb lover but it was reasonably tasty, and well presented.

It was an enjoyable meal and the restaurant itself is pleasant, with well spaced tables. They were very accommodating to my veggie request at very short notice, and the service throughout was excellent. If you are in the Port Stephens area, I'd recommend a visit.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Pino's Pizzeria Ristorante, Sydney

49 Willoughby Road,
Crows Nest NSW 2065 Map

Saturday night in Crows Nest is always good fun. Willoughby Road is buzzing as the restaurants fill up and this Saturday was no different. We had no plans, we hadn't booked so we thought we'd take pot luck.

We ended up at Pino's, an Italian restaurant near the to end of Willoughby Road. Pino's has been in Crows Nest since the seventies and has recently been refurbished. We decided not to have starters and I had Funghi Ravioli in Mushroom & Tomato which was homemade ravioli filled with ricotta & wild mushrooms in a cream, mushroom, chilli & fresh garlic sauce. The pasta was firm and al-dente and the sauce was really tasty.

For dessert I had the good old traditional Tiramisu. It was very good, but I would liked a little more alcohol in it. My wife ordered a Red Wine Poached Pear Pizza from the specials. It was just as it sounds - a pizza base scattered with red wine poached pears, spinkled with icing sugar and cinnamon with a dollop of ice-cream in the centre. It was great, and if it is ever on the menu when you go there, you must have it!

All in all, it was a very enjoyable and tasty meal and the service was very friendly and prompt. I love Italian food and this was very good. I'm certain that we will be going back.