21 July 2011

Alio: Modern Italian, 10 course degustation menu with wine, Redfern (29 Jan 2011)

5 Baptist Street, Redfern NSW 2016
Phone: (02) 8394 9368

Nice food on oversized plates

A lucky friend won a competition to have 4 people dine at Alio with matching wines included if the Degustation menu ($85 or $120 with matching wines) was ordered saving $35 each. Seemed like a great opportunity to try the restaurant which other friends had previously enjoyed using a Jump On It celebrating 10 years of being in business. From the very beginning our young waiter Jeremy looked after us with his friendly and accommodating nature. The maitre d’ was quite a flamboyant and lively chap who seemed very chatty with the diners as he swanned around the restaurant. Overall we were quite impressed with the food although I thought the plating and presentation didn’t really do the dishes full justice. Over-sized and heavy looking white bistro-style plates with too much space around the dish just seemed way out of proportion. Many of the wines sampled were highly quaffable and all served in half glass portions to match the dishes. Coffees and petit fours weren’t included but I felt it would have been nicer if they were as part of a degustation.

The slightly warmed Mixed marinated organic olives were good although I’m never a fan of the tiny ones — why bother I think, too messy to pickup. You can’t go wrong with 40 month old Reggiano Parmigiano that had great flavour, more please. The Alio hand made grissini was served with focaccia bread although I thought it was questionable counting this as one of the 10 dishes when so many restaurants provide bread complimentary. The Citrus cured kingfish with radish and orange dressing seemed to have notes of horseradish in the dressing giving it a nice kick. The large heavy plate seemed inelegant for such a delicate dish and perhaps would have been better suited on a nice thinner rectangular dish. Even though the look of Panfried scallops wrapped in pancetta reminded me of oversized witchetty grubs they soon became a favourite with the lovely bagna coada dressing — I’d happily order again. Great aroma from the Potato gnocchi with garlic prawns became another favourite and the matching 2009 Juniper Crossing Tempranillo was enjoyable enough to be savored on its own but was a questionable match to the food. A decent sized and tender Roasted lamb rack had a little bit of fat to cut away and came with an interesting dragoncello salsa. Matched with a lovely 2009 The Musician Cabernet Shiraz I thoroughly enjoyed.

The Coconut and lime sorbet was apparently home made which was super smooth and delightful as a palate cleanser before dessert, although can you really count this as a dish? The Poached peach was refreshing with the champagne granita which became a table favourite. I wondered if serving in a martini glass would have looked better making it also easier to eat from than a wine glass. Matched with a Beni Di Batasiolo Moscato had the right amount of sweetness without being sickly. To finish off the night coffees were extra. Most degustations I’ve had would usually include it though. The Flat white ($3.50) was strong and a little bitter, the Espresso ($3.50) not too bitter and hit the spot, the Hot chocolate ($3.50) smooth and chocolatey as hoped and the Mocha ($3.50) smoothly rounded with a good balance of flavour.

PROS: Friendly and efficient service, Nice ambience except for music selection at the time, Some tasty dishes that excited the palate, Good quality wines available
CONS: The background music selection was quite strange, The heavy over-sized white plates weren’t particularly elegant, Bread and coffees weren’t included with the degustation
MUST TRY: Panfried scallops wrapped in pancetta, Potato gnocchi with garlic prawns and cherry tomato, 2009 Juniper Crossing Tempranillo, 2009 The Musician Cabernet Shiraz, Beni Di Batasiolo Moscato, Mocha

Degustation January menu ($85 or $120 with matching wines)

Alio hand made grissini and focaccia bread, 40 month old Reggiano Parmigiano

Mixed marinated organic olives

I'm never keen on the tiny olives — why bother I always think

Lentil soup matched with Nino Franco, Rustico Prosecco, Valdobbiadene, Italy

Prosciutto san daniele with melon and rocket matched with Vistamar Sauvignon Blanc, Central Valley, Chile

Citrus cured kingfish with radish and orange dressing matched with 2009 La Zona Savagnin, King Valley, Vic

Panfried scallops wrapped in pancetta with spinach and a bagna coada dressing

Panfried scallops matched with Vino Bianco Della Casa, Cheshunt, Vic

Potato gnocchi with garlic prawns and cherry tomato

Potato gnocchi matched with 2009 Juniper Crossing Tempranillo, Margaret River WA

Roasted lamb rack with marinated beetroot and dragoncello salsa matched with 2009 The Musician Cabernet. Shiraz, Coonawarra SA

Coconut and lime sorbet

Poached peach with champagne granita matched with Beni Di Batasiolo Moscato, D'Asti Piedmonte, Italy

Flat white ($3.50), Espresso ($3.50), Hot chocolate ($3.50), Mocha ($3.50)

San Pellegrini sparkling mineral water ($7.50)

Dining area

Bar area

Nice candle, Salt & Pepper (was forgotten and needed to ask for it)

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Alio on Urbanspoon


Unknown said...

It's really nice @ Alio... very nice place. looks fantatstc still!

Tina@foodboozeshoes said...

I did the degustation recently too! Good to see they change it up almost completely.

Naww, Simon, what's wrong with the lil olives?! I like them equally!

The gnocchi sure looks like a winner there! And that lamb - wow!

Madam Wu said...

The food looks robust, earthly and full of flavour but the portions look even smaller on those damned oversized plates. It does not look like an abundant 10 courses worth $85, let alone over $125! I do love their warm home made foccaccia though.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you, those plates don't make the food justice, and also bread shouldn't be counted as a course.

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