Review: Grappa (Leichhardt)

So… it was my birthday a couple of weeks ago. As you may know, October = Crave Festival, a variety of food-related events that take place all around Sydney. One of my favourite features is Let’s Do Lunch, where restaurants offer a meal (often a main, but may vary) and a beverage (sponsor’s wine, beer or water) for $38. Al and I took the day off work for yet another Let’s Do Lunch adventure, this time at Leichhardt’s Grappa Ristorante e Bar.

The two dishes we shared were the Let’s Do Lunch meal: grilled snapper fillet with South Australian vongole, grilled eggplant, and cherry tomatoes, and one of the day’s specials: sesame-crusted tuna steak with fennel, citrus, capers, and olives.

There were two attempts to put bread on the table, which we declined. The second time we asked if they had any gluten-free bread, but they didn’t, and offered warm olives instead. We couldn’t say no. The olives were delicious (warm olives are just genius) and had a mild chilli kick. What we didn’t like about them is that they were charged on the bill, and they weren’t precisely cheap. Should have seen it coming.

Warm olives

Warm olives ($9.50)

On the bright side, food was superb. The snapper was perfectly cooked, its delicate flesh was tender and nicely flavoured by the surrounding broth. The whole dish was rounded (although the eggplant could do with a bit more time on the grill) and went really nicely with my glass of white.

Grilled snapper fillet

Grilled snapper fillet ($38)

The tuna steak was very tasty, as well, perhaps a bit too thin, but flavourful nonetheless. The salad was excellent, the (very Italian) combination of citrus (grapefruit in this case), fennel and olives is one of my favourites.

Tuna steak

Tuna steak ($34)

After we paid, the waiter forgot to bring our change and we were kept waiting for a while. The manager offered his apologies with a free shot of limoncello, which I happily accepted.

Grappa Ristorante e Bar
Shop 1, 267-277 Norton Street
Leichhardt NSW 2040
(02) 9560 6090

Grappa Ristorante & Bar on Urbanspoon

Other Crave Festival eats:
Sushi e, Let’s Do Lunch, 2010
Fix St James, Let’s Do Lunch, 2010
Night Noodle Markets, 2010
Food & Wine Fair, 2010
Norton Street Italian Festa, 2010
World Chef Showcase 2011 (day 1)
World Chef Showcase 2011 (day 2)
Est, Let’s Do Lunch, 2011
Bistrode, The Other Bits dinner, 2011
Uccello, Let’s Do Lunch, 2011

Review: Jovanotti Cafe (Leichhardt)

Once upon a time I used to get very excited each time I went to Leichhardt. The suburb has its fame as a favourite Italian dining destination, and I’ve certainly had very good meals (not only Italian; Nostos is one of my top Greek choices in Sydney) there.

After watching The Trip (tickets courtesy of John from he needs food) with my sister, we wandered around Norton Street to pick a dinner spot. A quick look at the menu at Jovanotti Cafe and a bit of reassurance seeing that there were people dining both inside and in the plastic-covered terrace made us decide to stay.

The menu has a fair number of great-sounding options, so it was a bit of a struggle to choose. In fact, Gladys decided on a veal dish, but then turned the menu and discovered the “gourmet” wood-fired pizzas. She ordered the Jovanotti pizza, with prosciutto, bocconcini, olives, sun-dried tomato, artichoke, and topped with chilli olive oil.

I was in the mood of something fishy and the skewers of char-grilled seafood served with vegetables and basil sauce sounded promising. A glass of The Vines Shiraz/Cabernet/Merlot for Gladys and a glass of Pinot Grigio rounded out our order.

The wait was long but it didn’t matter too much thanks to the nice rustic ambience, with a fireplace very close to our table. Sadly, a very drunk man and his not-so-drunk dining companions sitting right next to us made the experience a lot less charming.

The wine glasses arrived, mine was average, my sister’s was horrible. She thinks it was spoiled, I’m not quite sure if it was just bad quality.

Glasses of wine

Glass of Beelgara Black Label Pinot Grigio ($7.00), glass of The Vines Shiraz/Cabernet/Merlot ($6.00)

But that was just the beginning. I had spotted a plate being popped in the microwave. I wanted to think it was not my meal, but sadly I’m pretty sure it was. The skewers looked very unappetizing. Like a dish a rookie home cook would put together. Four prawns of varied sizes were the highlight of the dish. Two pieces of extremely dry fish (swordfish, maybe) and two rubber-textured calamari tubes completed the seafood “feast”. They sat on top of some cauliflower florets, a few chunks of carrot, a couple of snow peas and a watery mayonnaise that had no basil at all. Being from a coastal city I’ve eaten lots of seafood dishes in my life and I can assure you this was one of the worst ever, and it wasn’t a cheap one.

Skewers of char-grilled seafood

Skewers of char-grilled seafood ($29.50)

On the bright side, Gladys’ pizza was not that bad. It wasn’t great, either, but much better than my meal, and decently-sized. She let me have a slice, which I treasured until the end to at least finish with a tasty morsel.

Jovanotti pizza

Jovanotti pizza ($19.50)

The waitress asked how was everything and got silence as an answer. Enough said.

Jovanotti Cafe
20 Norton Street
Leichhardt NSW 2040
(02) 9560 4498