5 Fitzroy Street
St Kilda VIC 3182
+61 3 9534 9666
Disclaimer: Libby and her guests received a Best Restaurants $100 gift card from De Groots media which was used to pay for part of the bill at Sapore.
I don’t normally dine out on Monday nights – to me, Monday nights were specifically reserved for Eastbound & Down and Hello Ladies. But now that those shows have had their season’s run (and for Eastbound fans, it’s pretty much goodbye Kenny Powers forever), my Monday nights are free. And recently, I’ve come to realise that organising dinners on a Monday night is a good thing – restaurants are quieter and more often than not, they have specials on.
With that in mind, Daisy, Ricky, Dave and I decided to take advantage of Sapore’s Signature Dinner Menu. Available from Sunday through to Tuesday, you get a glass of wine and two courses for $38 per head (shared entrée and a choice of pasta for your main) and if you want dessert, it’s an extra $10. Given that Sapore has been around for seventeen years, collecting hats and awards here and there, we thought it was a pretty good deal. We also had a Best Restaurants $100 gift card to use thanks to the guys at De Groots media, which can be used at any participating restaurant on this list.
Head Chef and owner Simon Moss’s aim is simple: classic Italian food in a relaxed atmosphere. He pretty much got it down pat with the help of the restaurant’s casual beachside location and his staff’s warm hospitality throughout our meal. Daisy and I even got to sit on a banquette so comfortable that we were pretty much laying on it like gluttonous Roman senators towards the end of the night.
Oh, and the food wasn’t bad either!
I love red wine but I don’t always order it as I’m self-conscious about walking around with stained teeth. That night, however, the white option was Chardonnay which I hate with a passion so Shiraz it was. No regrets, it was very plummy all over with lovely dabs of cherry notes.
I thought olive oil and bread died out along with molecular gastronomy five years ago? That said, the olive oil was very fruity and delicious – I still would have preferred butter though. Oh, we also received complimentary plump olives from Gippsland which was a nice touch.
We started off with some nibbles to share: cold cuts on one side and salt & pepper calamari on the other.
Although I only had a slice of mortadella and salami, I thought the cold cuts were lovely in their simplicity. The cornichons and peppers were also there to break up all the salt.
I don’t normally order salt and pepper calamari at restaurants but I was pleasantly surprised at how good this was. The tentacles were amazingly tender and the batter was thin and crunchy. The aioli that came with the calamari wasn’t bad but I preferred to enjoy the calamari pieces sans-aioli.
The other entrée we had was the duck liver parfait bruschetta, which received shouts of praise all around the table. The parfait, which was velvety, was bursting with fatty flavour that would have been divine in little doses. The bruschetta slices, however, were loaded with a helluva lot of duck liver so I felt a bit overwhelmed. Thank goodness for the hazelnuts – they balanced out the fattiness really well.
Daisy ordered the saffron risotto for her main. None of us are big on risotto dishes but we were pleasantly surprised at how delicious this was. Each vibrantly-coloured grain was well-cooked, soaking up the lovely seafood stock. Meanwhile, the little calamari bits were amazingly tender. I was kicking myself for not choosing this dish.
Dave had the spaghetti with prawns, another excellent dish. The pasta was beautifully al dente, while the bisque provided a fragrant backdrop to the beautiful prawn, chilli and basil sauce.
Ricky’s seafood linguine was probably my least favourite dish, but only because the other dishes shone so brightly that this dish was merely reduced to a quiet achiever. The medley of fresh seafood made this dish beautiful and would have been the highlight of any given dinner if the other dishes weren’t so good.
My gnocchi was probably the heaviest of the four. In fact, it was so rich and heavy that I couldn’t finish it all (see below).
I’m not one to order rabbit dishes because, let’s face it, rabbit is a very hard meat to cook properly and I’ve often been disappointed whenever I order rabbit at restaurants. Not this time, though. The rabbit was unbelievably tender and nothing like the dry stringy mess I’m used to.
The gnocchi pillows stole the show though – they were soft and velvety like a phone sex operator’s voice (sorry, was watching The Carrie Diaries last night) and soaked up the sauce effortlessly. If I had to complain, I’d say that the pungent truffle butter smell initially threw me off-balance but that feeling quickly went away when I dug in.
Dining with Daisy means that we can’t leave without dessert no matter how stuffed we are. Tonight was no exception but we did manage to compromise by sharing two desserts between the four of us.
The Signature Dinner Menu only gives us three dessert options so it was a bit like choosing the lesser two evils. First up, we had the affogato. Unfortunately, I can’t say much about it because I really wanted to sleep that night. I do remember the macadamia gelato being creamy and not overly sweet, though.
The banana donuts, however, were excellent. They were more like banana fritters though, as the filling was all banana and no dough. Not that we were complaining! Although I couldn’t really taste the salt in the salted caramel, I did like the very earthy hazelnut ice cream.
Thanks to the Best Restaurants $100 gift card, we only paid $18 each that night. Even without the gift card, though, we still thought $48 per head represented amazing value given the quality of food we had that night. I’ll definitely come back to have the saffron risotto to myself – and a banana donut or two if I still have room in my stomach. Not necessarily on a Monday either.
On that note, Best Restaurants is giving away two $300 Best Restaurants gift cards to be used at any participating restaurant in Australia. All you need to do to be in the running to win this awesome prize is to take a photo of a meal you’ve enjoyed at a restaurant listed on www.bestrestaurants.com.au and upload it on the Best Restaurants competition page. The two photos with the most votes will win.