On Friday night, Jac and I had dinner at Sorrento Restaurant, which is located at 158 James Street, Northbridge.
Jac is a big fan of offal – she absolutely loves dishes like lamb’s fry with bacon, devilled kidneys and crumbed lambs’ brains in a creamy sauce. Not me! I refuse to eat offal – I’ve never liked how it tastes, but more than that, its texture is a big, big turn-off. Anyway, because it’s not something she cooks at home, Jac is always eager to order offal whenever it is on a menu, and so for her first course she chose the Fegatini di Pollo, chicken livers pan-fried with onions, chilli and a splash of port (AU$11). The dish was disappointing. While she enjoyed the port sauce, the livers themselves were either cooked by someone who didn’t know how to cook livers, or simply didn’t care. They had been poorly prepared (Jac suggested “not really prepared at all”) – the sinew had not been removed at all from the livers. They were unevenly cooked – not surprising, as the livers were served in a range of shapes and sizes – some I would describe as chunks. Worse, they were mostly terribly overcooked, so well-done in the middle they resembled pieces of pork, rather than liver! What a shame. The “onions” in the sauce were spring onion, but the whiter, thicker part of the spring onion, which was quite rubbery and difficult to chew. Sinews intact and overcooked, big BIG thumbs down for this dish.
For my first course I had bruschetta ($4.50), which I haven’t eaten for years. The garlic bread was a little on the salty side, but still very tasty. The bruschetta topping was delicious. As I ate it, I remembered why I tend to not order bruschetta – I don’t really like how the garlic bread ends up all soggy underneath all the tomato (we’re back to the soggy food debate again!). The first cafe I ever worked in when I was about 19 or 20 years old used to serve its bruschetta with the topping in a dish on the side. The customer was able to then spoon on as much or as little topping as he or she wanted, and could therefore control the soggification of the garlic bread. I know it wasn’t traditional, but personally, I really liked that concept. Anyway, I enjoyed my first course much more than Jac did hers. I left an empty plate, unlike Jac, who left bits of sinew (there’s that word again!) and unchewable spat-out overcooked (and that word!) liver.
For main course, Jac had the Scaloppine ai Funghi, veal slices panfried in a mushroom, white wine and cream sauce ($26). The potatoes included in the dish were very tasty – Jac said they tasted very much like potato bake. This dish was very Jac – creamy and saucy – she gave it an 8 out of 10.
I went for one of my favourite pasta dishes – the main sized Spaghetti Marinara ($26 or $18 for entree size). As I always do, I asked for the dish minus mussels. I was pleased with the four huge bursty prawns, but wished they’d removed their tails. I realise that some chefs like to leave the tails on prawns for presentation purposes, but from a practical eating perspective, I always prefer a pasta dish to be without inedible bits I have to pick out and leave on the edge of the plate – that means no tails, shells or bones. Besides, I don’t think the tails had any presentational value in this dish as they were mostly buried under the pasta anyway. The fish pieces and squid were pretty good – the fish was flaky, squid tender. Quite interestingly, one particular piece of squid featured a simply enormous sucker, which made us think it must’ve come from a
monster gigantic very big squid. The sauce was delicious, but I thought it was a little thin – nothing wrong with its flavour, but I’d have liked a sauce that was actually able to cling to the pasta a little more effectively. I suppose if I were to compare this to another marinara eaten at another Italian restaurant in recent times, Sorrento’s prawns were far superior, but Roman Palace’s sauce was a smidgeon better due to its better pasta-coating abilities.
We shared a serve of steamed vegetables ($8) – carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and yellow squash. They were nicely seasoned, though unfortunately there was quite a lot of yellow squash (I presume because it’s cheap), a vegetable I’ve loathed since childhood.
We were too full to have dessert, which was a shame, as the tiramisu we saw being delivered to another table looked pretty good. Service was OK – not outstanding. Our waitress was very nice and friendly (and patient – I was, I know, annoyingly indecisive at ordering time). The drinks were slow to arrive. Jac had ordered cranberry juice but had to make another selection as it was not available, but then the tomato juice she chose instead wasn’t very cold – the few ice cubes were rapidly sucked up by the room temperature juice. The water we requested was also not cold. They completely forgot my apple juice and had to be reminded. Our entrees seemed to take an eternity to arrive, and of course, as you know, the livers were simply unacceptable. We had a pleasant evening overall, but there was nothing that impressed enough to make me feel particularly keen to return to Sorrento. Especially when there are so many other places around.