Should we expect more, or less? To be or not to be… While these two Italian restaurants are poles apart in their aims and demographics, we feel the need to compare them on certain levels at least.
First visit: Capital. To start with, why is it called Capital? This is Italian Trattoria through and through. It’s pizza and pasta and antipasti – which one would never guess looking at the décor. But that’s not a bad thing. The fit out is industrial high chic that exemplifies the bones and history of the building. There’s been attention to detail, with funky finishing touches as in the exposed copper piping and massive industrial door handles sitting proud on the bar front. Even the bathrooms carry the theme.
Service? Attentive and slick. The waiters are well groomed and knowledgeable. Are you waiting for the ‘but’ moment? Well I hate to say it’s there too. The bloody menus, hard plastic coated and the size of large square frisbees kept knocking the cutlery on to the floor. Something the waiters ruefully admitted ‘it happens all the time’. Okay then change the menus! Easy!
And the contents therein? Well it’s not quite War and Peace, but does there really need to be 19 pizzas and how many pastas? We lost count, and then there’s the antipasti…… But you know what? We ordered 5 antipasti, which was generous value at $38.50, and a seafood pizza, all to share, between three.
It was almost all good to great. Potato gnocchi was soufflé like in its texture, and tasty as hell. Beef carpaccio with truffle cream? Rich, decadent and beautiful. And finally, the seafood quality and delivery was outstanding. We collectively praised and made loving noises. The only disappointment was the actual pizza base that was anything but freshly made. Where was the yeasty smell and perfect fresh counterpoint to great seafood? A point: focus a little less on the toppings and a little more on the pizza dough. How hard can it be? There are good cooks in the kitchen, obviously.
Cost? Great value at $40 each including a glass of wine and tip. We were replete, and …
And this brings us to Templo. The décor and aesthetics sing ‘wine bar’, with well-crafted wood tables and chairs, industrial lighting, and warm sandy hues throughout. The tiles on the bar are gorgeous and the pass area is stunning in a solid Tasmanian wood. The floor staff? Gentle and quietly spoken, which fits with the ambience of the space.
I dined solo, and have to say that the three courses I had: cured kingfish with fennel and saffron; veal scallopini with roasted garlic, sage butter and kipflers; pannacotta with pears and biscotti were incredibly well executed. The flavor is on the money – the chef can cook.
But, and it’s a huge but, the chef must have had a brain explosion…. What else would explain a main course that consists of eighty-five grams of veal, (one veal medallion) and one kipfler potato for $28?
Do the math. I paid $28 for approximately $4.00 worth of food. I can’t go back! At normal industry standards, at 25% food cost, that dish should have been around $16, more or less, and even then, I’d be disappointed. It doesn’t matter if you cook like Marco Pierre White, I’m not going back! Sorry.
Some improvements I may humbly suggest? With the veal, some white bean puree in veal jus, accompanied by a fresh cucumber salad….. Something, anything, that makes me feel like I’m eating dinner, not in the middle of a 12-course degustation! And for the pannacotta, perhaps use a chef’s spoon instead of a tablespoon? One can only hope that with food of this quality, the chasm between that and quantity, was a mistake. Well, I think I’ll have to go back to check. The food was good.
Tell us, have you had an expensive dinner recently that wouldn’t fill a fly? I thought that fad was long gone, but perhaps not! Do share, we’d love to hear…