5/25/2014 09:22:00 PM

Cecconi's bar

Back in March, I was invited to dinner at Cecconi's Flinders Lane Restaurant and Bar for their relaunch and to try a new seasonal menu by chef Daniel Kranjcic. Of course, I was there! I had visited Cecconi's a number of times back when it was in Crown and always enjoyed it. Cecconi's Flinders Lane was also on the shortlist for one of my birthday dinners and I was curious to see if it would still be as good as I remembered. Spoiler alert: I loved the invited dinner there, and shortly after this event I booked my own birthday dinner in! This post will cover both meals.

Drinks fridge

The relaunch event started with canapés and drinks (Aperol spritz - my favourite!) in the bar, followed by a five-course sit-down dinner with matching wines. It wasn't just a media / bloggers' dinner; the whole restaurant was booked out for the event and the guests also included friends and family of the Bortolotto family - a really convivial atmosphere.

Clockwise from top left: Seared scallops; oyster shooter; prosciutto-wrapped grissini; arancini

Of the canapés, I was most impressed by the seared scallops and the crunchy arancini.

Risotto, freshly shaved black truffles, parmesan, truffle oil
2013 Bellvale Pinot Grigio, Gippsland, Vic

The first course was this incredibly decadent and aromatic truffle risotto - wow! Despite the generous blanket of shaved black truffles, the woodsy scent wasn't overpowering. The risotto itself was cooked perfectly, with the rice grains retaining a nice bite. What a treat!

Chatham Island Blue Cod, confit tomato, fennel, fried zucchini flower, aged balsamic
2010 Bellevale 'Athena's Vineyard' Chardonnay, Gippsland, Vic

This fish dish was very simple, and very delicious - the fish was lovely and fresh, and I loved the crisp fried zucchini flower too.

Twice-cooked duck, sweet potato puree and lime
2012 Bellevale Pinot Noir, Gippsland, Vic

I adore sweet potato and duck, so it was obvious that I would love this dish. I particularly liked the lime, which cut through the sweetness and richness of both duck and sweet potato, adding a freshness and brightness to an otherwise heavy dish.

Formaggio - with pear, dried fruits, quince paste, crackers
2009 Bellevale 'The Quercus Vineyard' Pinot Noir, Gippsland, Vic

Caramel Pannacotta, wild fig cake, macadamia ice-cream
2013 Montevecchio Moscato by Chalmers

Dessert was a little caramel panna cotta, topped with crumbled wild fig cake and macadamia ice-cream. It wasn't overly sweet or rich, and had a great combination of textures - a lovely way to round off a delicious meal.

So after that evening, you can imagine how much I was looking forward to having my own birthday dinner there. We went with two of my oldest friends on a Saturday night and, refreshingly, there was no time limit on the table. I understand why some restaurants choose to do two sittings, and as a patron I'm so used to it that it really feels like a treat when you don't get booted out after two hours!

Negroni - $18

Between the four of us, we shared three entrees and had a main each with a couple of sides - which ended up being a very generous amount of food.

Mushroom arancini - $16 for four

I had to order the arancini again, after enjoying them so much at the re-launch event, and they did not disappoint.

Roasted garlic, parmesan and herb bread - $9

The garlic bread was both crunchy and chewy, and garlicky without being overpowering - yum. (On reflection, I remember now that we didn't get bread and oil with our meals whilst the other tables did - I'm not sure if this was an oversight or if they skip the bread for customers who order the garlic bread. Either way, there was more than enough food throughout the evening to keep us going!)

Caramelised scallops, black pudding, carrot puree, baby herbs - $26

Scallops and black pudding are a classic combination, and Cecconi's version was very good - the scallops were cooked perfectly, and the velvety smooth carrot puree provided a welcome sweetness.

Spaghettini, blue swimmer crab meat, bottarga, cherry tomato, chives - $34 

I don't often order seafood pastas at restaurants, as I often make them at home, but I couldn't resist the lure of the relatively exotic bottarga. The spaghetti was just beautiful - I loved the briney, seafoody sauce and the little hit of chilli.

Osso buco with saffron risotto - $42 (special, not on the regular menu)

Sandra ordered the osso buco, which came with risotto Milanese (saffron risotto), which was a special that night. It was excellent, tender meat in a rich savoury sauce, and the accompanying creamy risotto was also very nice. However, both the osso buco and risotto were very heavy, and the portion was enormous. Sandra barely made a dent in it before admitting defeat. This dish could have easily fed two to three people as a main, and if felt like a bit of a shame to waste such lovely food.

Roasted barramundi, confit garlic, celeriac mash, lemon - $39

My friend Adri ordered the roast barramundi with confit garlic, celeriac mash and lemon. Simple and delicious.

Roast rolled pork, colcannon mashed potatoes, crackling - $42

This roast pork was also a special that night. Check out that perfect square of crackling! Amazing! The meat was tender and the mash provided a nice carby blanket against the rich meat and jus.

We ordered a couple of sides as well: a salad and some chips. We probably didn't need any extra food, but thought a salad would be a good idea, and this group always, always orders chips!

Iceberg, avocado and parmesan salad, Caesar dressing - $14

This iceberg, avocado and parmesan salad with Caesar dressing looked plain, but had a rounded salty flavour from the Caesar dressing. The crunchy iceberg lettuce also provided a refreshing counterpoint to our heavy meals.

Hand cut chips - $12

When we ordered chips, our waiter asked us if we'd like thick-cut chips or thin French fries, so of course I asked for the thick ones. However, as much as I love fat fluffy chips, these were a bit too fat, and weren't particularly crispy on the outside. And at $12 for what is essentially, eight chips (or approximately two potatoes), it didn't represent great value for money. Next time I'd definitely go for regular French fries.

And after a bit more chatting and laughing, we somehow found extra room for dessert...

Tiramisu - sponge soaked in Kahlua, Strega, coffee, mascarpone cheese - $17

The tiramisu came in a cute little jar, and the crisp chocolatey shards (feuilletine, I believe) on top was an unusual, but very welcome addition.

Lemon meringue, shortbread, marshmallow, cassis sorbet - $17

This lemon meringue dessert was just incredible! There was a little mound of lemony panna cotta, topped with a crunchy piece of shortbread, with meringue and more lemony mousse piped on top. A smear of blowtorched meringue provided more texture, and a perfect little quenelle of blackcurrant sorbet sat on top of a pile of biscuit crumbs. Such a great combination of textures and flavours.

Milk chocolate panna cotta, brownie biscuits, stracciatella ice-cream $17

Finally, we also (also!) had the milk chocolate panacotta, which was a combination of some of my favourite treats - milk chocolate, brownies and choc chip ice-cream. Love!

So that's my account of two rather epic meals at Cecconi's - so much delicious food!

Sarah attended the Cecconi's Re-Launch VIP Evening as a guest, and visited separately as an anonymous paying customer for her birthday dinner.

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  1. The scallops with morcilla look awesome and how pretty is that lemon meringue!

  2. It's hard to know about the chips isn't it? Sometimes fat ones are so delicious but other times they aren't as crisp. And it is great when you don't have to vacate your table after two hours!!

  3. WOW! The food there looks incredible, especially the twice cooked duck and caramelised scallops!

  4. I've never been to Cecconi's but it looks amazing! That osso bucco in particular looks super hearty and perfect for the current weather. Pity it's not on the normal menu!



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