22 Union Street, Pyrmont, NSW 2009
Until now, I’ve always walked past this cute little corner café brimming with curiosity an unfortunately full tummy. Tucked in a well-heeled neighbourhood with a Simon Johnson instead of a Coles and a stone’s throw away from the newly refurbished Star, I knew I was in for a treat when my date and I finally walked in.
At the suggestion of our charming waiter, we started off with the Bruschetta du Jour ($10.5) that was quite different from the typical too-hard crostini with arbitrary marinated tomatoes. A rosette of salmon “confit” crowned with a dollop of dill-infused crème fraîche was presented on a silky smooth blanket of mashed avocado atop pillowy pliant foccacia. I could not have enough.
The Handmade Gnocchi with Burnt Butter Sage Sauce and Chargrilled Prawns ($18.5) should not be missed. The gnocchi were in beautifully irregular rustic nubbins, richly satisfying with a blend of polenta and ricotta. The sauce was brilliantly perfumed with sage, the verdant leaves fried to a crisp and tossed in for extra effect. Undeniably perfect prawns completed the trifecta with their moist crunch and marine sweetness.
My Chef’s Special ($16.5) was good if a little less spectacular. Al dente penne in a pomodoro sauce enriched with eggplant with chunks of pork fillet was tasty but left me still quite hungry.
We finished off with a Hazelnut Brûlée with Savoiardi Gelato ($12). This was really quite beautiful with that bittersweet burnt sugar tang having an added nutty edge and balanced by a deliciously creamy gelato capturing that rich yet delicate sweetness of ladyfinger biscuits.
A remark on service: For the better part of the meal, we were impressed by our debonair waiter who was full of wonderful recommendations and a rich Italian accent that added atmosphere to the meal. Thankfully only our dessert order was somewhat poorly handled by a rather lazy and irritable Aussie waitress who had to be told to check which desserts were available as she agonised over the possibilities for a good two minutes and - to our shock - hollered them to us across the room. The other diners present appeared rather taken aback too.