March 27, 2016 / Leave a Comment
Much like it’s nearby sister properties Rosie and The Store, Ortolana delivers healthy hipster cuisine with ingredients sourced from their own farm. It’s been around since the stylish Britomart Pavillions were conceived, and to my knowledge has sat resident on the Metro Top 50 list ever since (Parnell’s Rosie, located by not far from here by the Rose Gardens, also makes the cut). It won’t shock the pocket (unlike the similar Odettes) though I’ll admit I find the menu a tad uninspiring at times, and that’s what has caused me only to visit this acclaimed eatery twice since it’s inception. It just never sounds that appetizing to me, often they pick combinations that can sound rather hippie hipster or simple – for me the uber wholesome thing doesn’t really ignite the tastebuds when I’m checking out a menu, no matter how good it might taste on the plate. I think to their main crowd that’s the hipster allure however.
They have a separate lunch and dinner menu, but there’s little variation between the two strangely, save omitting the more breakfasty sounding dishes on the evening offering. It’s certainly a pretty fit out and the aesthetic is natural yet quirky in keeping with the food style.
What we ordered:
GNOCCHI, ROMESCO, MOZZARELLA, POACHED EGG – $20 + PANCETTA additional
DRY CURED PORK, TUSCAN BUTTER, CUCUMBER – $19
The gnocchi was certainly the heartier dish of the two we selected, with plenty of unctuous richness coming from the oozing poached egg, crispy pancetta and fried gnocchi. Add melting finely grated mozzarella and you have a match made in heaven. Some frisée greens lightened proceedings up just enough for it not to be overwhelmingly rich. The romesco sauce added a lovely nutty creamy tomato flavour into the mix for further dimension.
The dry cured pork just wasnt really what we expected to see on the plate when it arrived, but in hindsight perhaps my imagination was just conjuring up completely the wrong thing! It was essentially prosciutto with some pickled cucumber and Tuscan herb infused butter smeared on the bottom of the plate. I’ve never seen butter played in this way, looking like a sauce – if you didn’t apply it to the accompanying bread slices, you were in for a cold, fatty shock to the palate. This dish was essentially a deconstructed bruschetta, or even sandwich I suppose, but the deconstruction didn’t add anything to the dish and really just complicated proceedings. It was a pretty strange format for a main dish, if it’s meant to be butter and ham on bread, just save everyone the hassle and name and serve it accordingly. It felt a little pretentious. Nice to see Number 29 olive oil on offer however!
For those who have room for the sweeter side of things (sadly we didn’t), you can pop next door to dessert bar Milse or simply order in house to have some of their treats delivered to your table if you’d rather not walk any further than absolutely necessary.
Reservations are not taken except for early bird tables – pre-12pm for lunch bookings, and before 6:30pm for dinner. A pretty nice looking wine list and a concise (perhaps a little too concise) beer selection awaits thirsty diners, mostly reasonably priced too. House wine options start at a very cheap $9, nice to see they have that option available. Not hard to get away with a tasty and very inexpensive outing at Ortolana, it’s pretty great value in my books. Given this style of food really seems to be up Metro’s alley, I imagine this laid back cool kid will be keeping itself on the list for a while to come. Best for a summer’s lazy lunch outing between shopping stints.