Friday, January 22, 2010

Sud, Melbourne

If I had to describe Sud in three words, they would be 'warm', 'intimate' and 'unassuming'.  If I had to describe the food at Sud in three words, they would be 'tasty', 'simple', and 'authentic'.

I came across this place online - during one of my weekly searches for places to eat in Melbourne.  Every review was outstanding which only led me to want to try Sud even more.

So tonight, I had booked a table for four.  We arrived after what seemed to be an exhausting twenty minute walk.  Exhausting due to the humidity of the early evening heat in the city. 

Sud doesn't look anything special from the outside.  It's merely a simple, unassuming shopfront looking type of a place.  Step inside though and enter a long, intimate, softly lit room with crisp white linen table cloths and bottles upon bottles of wine and spirits.  All strategically placed and laid out like ornaments so as to fill the place with a cosy, almost cellar-like atmosphere.

We were greeted by a friendly waiter who led us to our table.  Another came soon after to offer us some water of our choice.  A much needed liquid to quench our thirst from the walk here. 

A wine list was brought to the table, and seeing as the food menu changes on a weekly basis (Mondays), it is simply written up on a large 'Food' board that hangs on one side of the wall.  The fact that the menu changes on a weekly basis, I love.  It shows pure imagination and a want to create something different for their clientele.   

The food menu had a lot of traditional Italian named dishes, and so we were a little unsure as to what some of them were.  Luckily, the very knowledgable manager (and waiter) went through every dish, carefully explaining each one of them to us.  It all sounded absolutely divine. 

He even offered some good suggestions such as recommending which antipasto would be good for sharing.

We went with the 'Prosciutto di Parma with warm Ligurian olives' ($21) and the 'Heirloom tomato, mozzarella salad' ($19). 

Whilst waiting for the antipasto, we were brought a basket of fresh focaccia and small bowl of extra virgin olive oil.  The bread was simply delicious; soft and herb-alicious! 

The prosciutto di parma arrived along with a shallow bowl of Ligurian olives.  In terms of crockery, I simply love the Italian styled floral edged plates that they use here at Sud.  It gave the food an even more authentic rustic Italian feel.  

The proscuitto was beautifully moist and full of flavour.  The Ligurian olives were warmed through; the flesh was delicious and the stones were, as one can imagine, small. 

The heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad followed soon after.  Mixed with basil leaves, it was indeed a lovely variety of tomatoes - black russians, teardrops and ox hearts.  The buffalo mozzarella was ripped rather than cut with a knife which seemed a more authentic way to serve it.  We all murmered in delight as we tried the black russians, which were super sweet.  None of us had eaten them before and we all vowed to try and find them in the market.

For mains, three of us chose the 'Confit lamb shoulder with caponata' ($35) and the other chose the 'Pork cutlet, fig and radicchio salad, hazelnuts' ($35).  Although the three sides all sounded rather good (and we were recommended the roasted potatoes),  we all decided to forego a side so as to leave room for a bit of dessert at the end.  Instead, we were offered some more bread to accompany our mains - of which we happily accepted.

The confit lamb shoulder with caponata arrived for the three of us.  They looked utterly devine and tasted exceptionally sublime.  The lamb was oh so tender and simply fell apart as I cut into it.  The caponata (which is a Siciilian aubergine or eggplant dish) also had red bell peppers mixed into it.  The combination was magic and it was just the right amount.  Not too large so as to stuff one up, and not too small so as to leave one hungry and begging for more. 

The pork cutlet with fig, radicchio salad and hazelnuts looked equally as good.  The pork was beautifully cooked through and wasn't tough in the slightest.  My companion enjoyed it so much, highly praising the dish and commenting on how the figs were simply heaven.   

We finished off the meal with a tiramisu and a chocolate parfait with boozy grappa soaked cherries and a small serving of grappa jelly. 

The tiramisu was served in a Martini cocktail glass, generously topped with cocoa.  Made with the traditional lady fingers, it had a strong coffee taste which I really like.  Obviously homemade, it was delicious.  Unfortunately, I don't have the best camera for taking food shots and as an amateur photographer, my photo really doesn't do it any justice at all. 

The chocolate parfait was rich - chocolatey rich good that is.  The grappa jelly certainly tasted of grappa and as I was told, the cherries were truly boozy.  This one, I can say, was definitely an adult dessert. 

The staff here know their stuff; are quite obviously passionate about food and wine; are super helpful, polite and welcoming.

Whilst chatting away to the manager, he told us that their lunches are often very hectic due to them servicing the local office crowd.  But that their dinners take on a more relaxed pace.  We all loved the fact that it was informal, relaxed and uncomplicatedly easy in terms of not being packed in.

A gorgeous place with a homey feel, attentive service, great food, knowledgeable staff.  The fact that my dining companions are all talking about when we will visit next is a sure sign that everyone felt right at home at Sud.

219 King Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Tel: +61 (0)3 9670 8451

Open Mon-Fri -
Lunch: Midday - 3pm
Dinner: 6pm - late

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