Friday, 31 May 2013

Vine Restaurant & Bar - Italian in the heart of New Farm

On a cold and rainy night the only option for me was to have a nice dinner somewhere.  I had originally arranged to visit Aria with some workmates as a special treat, but had to cancel the plans on the day due to unforeseen reasons.  Once the Aria plans fell through I went into research mode. I was keen to visit somewhere I had never been before.  I had a look at all the restaurants on my (long) list to visit but really felt like something different, so I turned to my friend the internet and began my search.

One of the restaurants I came across was Vine restaurant and bar in New Farm, which had a really slick website and piqued my interest.  What was surprising was that I had never heard about Vine, but it had been around for over seven years, so it was looking promising for a visit.  Next up was a trip to Urbanspoon to  continue my research and to see what others had to say about Vine.  It only took me a few seconds to see that Vine was our destination for dinner, it has a massive 92% of visitors liking it and there were heaps of great comments.  Perfect!

As we made our way through the back streets of New Farm, SC had a thought that this may have been a restaurant she visited a few years back.  Pulling up out the front and scoring a park right out front confirmed her suspicions; it was the same place.  Vine is an Italian restaurant quietly tucked away in Moray Street, a street we have walked by hundreds of times, yet I had never noticed it.

Vine is run by brothers Mark and Daniel Rotolone, with head chef Carlos Ortego in the kitchen and their little restaurant specialises in simple Italian cuisine with a modern edge, using fresh local produce and high quality imported products.  Carlos spent time cultivating his style in San Sebastien and London before settling in Brisbane. Carlos and the team bring a vast knowledge of Italian cuisine to this little pocket of New Farm.

The menu has a mix of modern and traditional Italian dishes and we had a little trouble deciding on what we would have.  It was one of those times where we could easily have had the dishes, but that's not the life of a food blogger, so we eventually made our selections and settled in.  After ordering, it gave us an opportunity to take a good look at the interior of Vine, which felt very comfortable yet refined, with white linen table cloths and beautiful cutlery.

While there were many interesting looking entrees, SC could not pass on the opportunity to try the ravioli filled with duck, chicken and jamon in a brown butter porcini mushroom and sage sauce.  You can tell a lot about a meal by the quality of the sauce and and the porcini mushroom and sage sauce was devine.  The ravioli had a slightly asiatic look to them and looked a little like gyoza but were Italian through and through.  The combination of duck, chicken and jamon was not one that comes to mind often but was inspired choice and was delicious, especially when combined with the sauce.

I opted for a classic with my selection of twice-baked pork belly with seared scallops, Jerusalem artichokes and a salsa verde.  It's very hard to go wrong with this combination and this was a fine example of the two proteins working well together.  My scallops were plump and perfectly cooked with a lovely caramelisation and tasted wonderful.  The twice-baked pork belly had lots of flavour, but for me was slightly over cooked.  The crackling on top was stunning, but the rest of the pork was just a little dry.  The salsa verde added complexity and depth of flavour to the dish but the I didn't enjoy the texture of the Jerusalem artichokes.  The flavours of the salsa verde, artichokes and proteins all worked well together.

There were again a lot of delicious looking options for main but SC decided on the escallops of veal, jamon serrano, sage, white polenta with olives and semi-dried tomato.  This was a very rustic looking plate of food, which is to say that it was not pretty!  There were two pieces of tender veal cooked really well sitting atop a pile of white polenta.  I'm personally not a fan of polenta but SC seemed to have no issues at all and quite enjoyed the flavour.  The overall dish was nice, but SC found the balance of flavours to be slightly off and in particular thought it needed a little more seasoning.  To be fair, there were some salty olives on the dish which SC completely avoided, which were most likely there to add extra saltiness to the dish.

When dining in an Italian restaurant I think it's good form to try the pasta, so I opted for the tagliatelle with scallops, prawns, mussels, calamari, fresh crab and cherry tomatoes in white wine and olive oil with a hint of chilli.  This was a very generous plate of food with beautifully cooked seafood smothering the plate.  The tagliatelle was a perfect al dente and was lightly covered in the white wine sauce.  There was one surprise after another eating this dish, the scallops were huge and delicious, the mussels were plump and perfect.  In fact, each of the components of the dish were perfect, there was just too much of it and try as I might, I could just not finish it all.  Normally I don't feel guilty about this, but for some reason I did with this dish.

As stuffed as we were, there was still room for dessert.  The dessert menu at Vine was filled with traditional and contemporary Italian desserts and SC decided to try her hand with the freshly baked callebaut chocolate tart with pistachio ice cream.  We were advised that there would be a 15 minute wait for the freshly baked tart, which was a good sign of things to come.  Our 15 minute wait turned into just about 30, but we were having such a good time that we hardly noticed.  The chocolate tart was put in front of SC looked amazing, with a decent sized tart surrounded by edible flowers.  The pasty of the tart was supremely prepared and cooked and the chocolate was perfect, not too sweet and not too bitter.  The pistachio ice crea was an inspired accompaniment and worked wonderfully with the tart.

As it turned out both SC and I went for desserts that would not normally be associated with Italian cuisine, with my selection being the date and chocolate pudding with mascarpone double cream.  This was a rich and decadent looking dessert with lots of chocolate sauce and a big dollop of cream on top, which slowly melted over the hot dessert.  There were some interesting textures in the pudding to surprise and tantalise, which included baked pistachios.  I don't normally order desserts with dates in them, but this was fabulous and rich and sticky and before too long it was gone.

Considering the Vine restaurant and bar had never come across my radar before, I was pleasantly surprised by the meal.  There were some elements in some of our courses that were not perfect, sure, but this is to be expected and they didn't detract from the meals at all.

One thing that set the Vine apart from some other restaurants I have been to recently was the welcome we received when we came, which carried throughout the whole meal.  After each course was delivered the wait staff came along to make sure we were happy.  We were also really pleased to see the managers take the time to go from table to table and engage in conversation and really enhance the night for those present.

When we first arrived the place was mostly empty, but it filled up quickly and you could tell that this was a local for many customers.  Because it was a cold and rainy night, no one was sitting outside, but I could imagine on a warm summer's night the alfresco dining at Vine would be overflowing into beautiful Moray Street.  There was a friendly vibe that was present all night and it was the type of restaurant that left you feeling good and wanting to come back.  We might just do that too!


SC had a lovely pinot noir with her meal, and it was large enough to nurse through the whole meal
White linen is dangerous when eating pasta, but never fear, there was also paper to protect it
Vine had a warm and welcoming feel to it
Starting to fill up
Cold and wet, so no one outside, but in summer, this would be packed

Vine on UrbanspoonVine Restaurant Bar

1 comment:

  1. All images are good and I can't help eating seafood. I always go new Orleans restaurant for eating seafood there seafood is good and I like very much.


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