Monday, 27 October 2014

Casual Dining Lunch - Marchetti Cafe in Tattersall's Arcade

I've talked a lot about my love of wandering around Brisbane and noticing the changes, both big and small.  There have been many, many changes to our fair city in the last twelve months, many of which involve the completion big new buildings, many with food offerings. It's not just the big changes that get me excited, but the small changes, the little additions, the tweaks that, if you weren't paying attention to, you would miss.

One of Brisbane's older arcades is the Tattersall's Arcade, which houses a number of specialty shops that cater to the well heeled of Brisbane, including Longchamp.  I often use the arcade as a short cut from Edward Street to the Queen Street Mall and noticed one of Brisbane's little tweaks a few months ago.  In one of the few vacant spaces in the arcade, a cute little cafe had sprouted, which was very reminiscent of European and Melbourne style cafes.   Owner Michael Makras, owner of nearby Optiko, had spotted an opportunity and teamed up with architect Stephen Cameron to develop a perfect little space for relaxing in one of Brisbane's most elegant arcades.

Tucking away this fact for a future visit, I'd wandered past the little shop numerous times, and each time I'd made the mental note to get along to see what was on the menu.  It wasn't until I found myself with a spare hour for lunch that I'd resolved to get in and check out the Italian diner and bar.  I'll let you in on a dirty little secret though, I'd actually initially been looking to buy some KFC in MacArthur Central before being confronted by a queue that was way too long.  Now, don't ask me why I'd been going to KFC to begin with, I couldn't rightly say, but I did have a hankering for some chicken nuggets.

Thwarted, thankfully, by a ridiculously long queue, I had a moment of clarity and made a bee-line for Tatt's Arcade and the cute little cafe that I'd resolved so many times to visit.  It was actually pretty quiet and I was able to find a table in the arcade aligned to Marchetti, although I'd really wanted to sit in one of the soft comfy chairs that made up a circular quartet of seats right at the L point of the arcade. Each of the tables contained a menu, so I had a quick look over the offerings, which mainly consisted of classic Italian light meals.  There were a couple of likely lunch items that appealed and decision made, I sauntered over to the counter to place my order.

It was a choice between the vitello tonnato, thinly sliced veal served cold with tuna, caper and anchovy sauce or the polpette, veal meatballs in a rich red Napoli sauce and a salad.  The polpette won out, I have a real penchant for meatballs, especially after my New York trip (see post here).  It also helped that they were described as 'handmade by Mike's Mum', for that really personal touch!  When the dish came, there were five decent sized meatballs in a rich sugo sauce with a little bit of grated cheese and a salad, separated by a thick piece of toast, which was there to help soak up the tomato sauce.  The meatballs were firm yet moist and there was a beautifully sweet meaty flavour from the veal which married wonderfully with the sauce.  While the meatballs themselves were lovely, the salad that came with it was pretty bare, with just a couple of tomato slices and some spinach leaves, I think some Spanish onion and capers would have really perked it up.

To wash the veal meatballs down, I'd ordered a salted caramel milkshake which came in a cool little striped cup that matched the decor and styling of Marchetti.  Brown and white vertical stripes were the order of the day and while the cup wouldn't have blended into the background, the similarities were there.  I also loved the old style paper straw, which added a touch of nostalgia to the shake.  It was a pretty subtle shake, I could tell that it was caramel, but it didn't step up and announce itself as a force and I'd love to see just a little bit more flavour in future.

Marchetti is quite unique in Brisbane, it's an old style cafe in an old style arcade.  I loved the distinctly Italian stylings inside the little space and I was particularly  enamoured with the three dimensional floor stylings that reminded me of a 1980's video game background.  There was room for a few to sit on bar stools inside, but most of the seats were in the arcade, including the comfy looking centre piece of the arcade.

There was not a huge menu on offer, but there was enough for most people to come in and have a quiet and refined lunch, in the company of friends.  I was dining solo on the day and I really noticed that it would have been perfect to be sitting chatting to a mate, as opposed to just reading the paper.  Service was friendly and my meal was delivered with a smile, which was a great distraction from the usual lunchtime rushed look.

I think I'd have to go back again to check out the vitello tonnato, it sounded really good, but I wouldn't do it alone again, it would have to be with SC or a mate.  The refined setting and comfy seats really cry out for engagement and discussion, not solitude.  

I loved the geometric shapes around Marchetti
Arcade seating, it got quite busy while I was sitting eating my lunch
There was an old school feeling about my shake
The meatballs were wonderful, but the salad needed a bit of work
All the usual cafe options available 
I loved the floors in Marchetti!

Marchetti Cafe on UrbanspoonMarchetti

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