Sunday, September 19, 2010
I think I must be the last Melbourne food blogger to visit Il Fornaio - nope, I never went in its pre-Phillipa Sibley incarnation, and I totally missed all the buzz surrounding its recent re-opening. Oops! Bad blogger! I sure made up for it last Sunday though, with not one, but two visits!
2 Acland St
St Kilda 3182
I'm not normally down in St Kilda, but we had to run some errands down there, and thought we'd grab some lunch. During the day Il Fornaio don't serve their famous desserts, but offer a range of interesting and upmarket cafe foods - baguettes, savoury pies, pastries, cakes and so on. They also sell bread from Noisette, and I picked up a multigrain loaf. (I was very happy to see this, as we'd just come from Baker D. Chirico and they'd completely sold out!)
I was impressed by the coffees - they were rich and creamy. As you can see I went wild and ordered a cappuccino. (And it wasn't even skinny - gasp!)
Latte, Cappuccino (single rosetta pattern, pretty!) - $3.80 each
Funky sugar almost makes me wish I took sugar in my coffee.
I got a baguette from the cabinet - country terrine with pear and ginger chutney and cornichons. From memory it was about $12.
It was absolutely fantastic! The terrine was studded with pistachios, and I really liked the sharp and sweet chutney and cornichons. But what really made this baguette work for me was the thick smear of good butter, which prevented the chutney from being overpowering. Mmm.. butter.
Sandra was slightly more healthy and chose the ham hock and lentil soup. It was full of lentilly meaty goodness.
All in all, a pleasant little lunch, which came to about $40, if you include the loaf of bread, which was $7.50. I totally wanted to order a slice of carrot cake - it looked amazing! - but was really full.
Later that evening, we had dinner with my parents at Dainty Szechuan in South Yarra (blogpost to come soon, hopefully!), and whilst we were recovering from a chilli overload and lamenting the lack of dessert options, I had a bright idea and suggested we take a drive down to St Kilda! Luckily my dad was totally up for it. As soon as I explained what was in the Snickers dessert he was sold!
Il Fornaio looks really different at night. We got there at about 9pm, and it was very quiet and dark inside. I almost thought it was closed, until we noticed there were a few tables of people inside.
The waiters were really nice, chatting with us and explaining all the different desserts. Barista Daniel was especially friendly, and made great coffees, according to my parents. I do love my coffee, but 2 in one day and I'd be buzzing all night. So, a nice soothing cup of English Breakfast Tea it was.
English Breakfast Tea - $3.50
Su and I shared the Poires belle Hélène "my way", which looked very different from the version I made at home 4 years ago, haha. Traditionally Poires belle Hélène is made up of pears poached in sugar syrup, served with vanilla ice-cream, chocolate sauce and crystallised violets. Phillipa's version, on the other hand, has a poached pear filled with vanilla ice-cream, and a big chocolate fondant pudding.
Poires belle Hélène "my way" - $19.00
Dig into the pudding with a spoon and watch the molten chocolate pudding innards ooze out...
And there's the ice-cream inside the pear.
It was beautiful, but very rich. I'm glad that I was sharing it! And just quietly, I would have loved more vanilla ice-cream with it - there wasn't nearly enough for me inside that pear!
And what trip to Il Fornaio is complete without a mention of the famous Snickers dessert? We ordered 2 for the table: one to be shared by my parents, and one for Sandra.
'Snickers' - $19
As anyone who's read a newspaper or food blog in the past few months will know, the Snickers dessert is made of peanut dacquoise, caramel parfait glace, salted peanut caramel and milk chocolate mousse, with 2 plaques of milk chocolate. ZOMG. It really is one of those "Can't talk, eating!" moments.
And if that wasn't enough, we were surprised with a plate of super-soft rose marshmallows!
And yes, the next day saw a welcome return to the gym!
My folks and I loved Il Fornaio, and had a really pleasant evening. Great service, a nice atmosphere and incredible desserts. I definitely recommend it if you are in the area, or if you can think of a good enough excuse, hehe. At $19 a pop, the desserts are quite expensive, (but given the amount of work that goes into one Snickers, I can see why!), and if you were paying attention, you'd see that it came to $75.10 for 3 desserts and 5 coffees/teas. I probably wouldn't go back regularly, but just as a special treat.