Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Il Bacaro, Melbourne CBD by Bureaucrat

5 stars. 10 out of 10.  A+.  100%  First Class Honours.  How else can I convey our experience at Il Bacaro?  Honestly, we were blown away by the quality of the food and service at Il Bacaro.  Over the years, we've been lucky to have a few memorable dining experience - either in terms of luxe eats (e.g., Collins Kitchen and Melba - you just gotta love a lobster seafood buffet!) and establishment restaurants (e.g., Jacques Reymond and Stefano's) - but all of them fall short of what we experienced at Il Bacaro.  This intimate Italian restaurant on Little Collins Street raises the bar not just for Italian food but for all restaurants.  Period.

Il Bacaro, Melbourne, duck breast, confit duck leg
Duck breast, confit duck leg, beetroot puree, baby figs and nasturtium leaves

While originally we had planned on taking Boy Chick to our lunch, it turns out that Il Bacaro doesn't have high chairs.  Instead, the Lawyer and I took the opportunity to have a leisurely lunch and chalk it up as date night (or in our case, date lunch).

Il Bacaro, Melbourne, coffee
Ensconced in the prime corner table, we started our meal with aromatic coffee and dunked the gorgeous sourdough bread in the deliciously peppery extra virgin olive oil.

There are lots of tempting dishes on the menu, including a few specials of the day.  The Lawyer and I decided to go lovey dovey and share all our dishes.  All up, we ordered two starters, three entrees, one main and one dessert to share.  The staff were brilliant and suggested that they serve all the dishes (bar one of the starters and the dessert) in separate plates.

Il Bacaro, Melbourne, carpaccio
The first starter was the beef carpaccio with globe artichokes, pickled chanterelle mushroom, black garlic and parmigiano reggiano.  The photo above shows the full dish.  The beef was seared on the edges and had good flavour.  It was sliced reasonably thinly (although I have had carpaccio that was sliced even thinner at Isabella's at Rochford's Winery). I loved the pureed globe artichokes and the squidgy mushrooms.

Il Bacaro, Melbourne, calamari
The second starter was the shallow fried calamari with rocket and balsamic dressing.  The photo shows a half serve.  There was quite a generous amount of the utterly tender and sweet calamari.  So simple, so perfect.  I equally loved the tangy dressing on the fresh, peppery rocket.

We then moved on to carb-based dishes... bliss!  These were entree serves and each were a-may-zing!  Each had an incredible depth of flavour to them - you can tell that there were made with premium ingredients and the stocks and sauces that went into each dish have been carefully and thoughtfully prepared by skilled chefs.  There was such intense flavour to each dish that we hadn't experienced anywhere before.

Il Bacaro, Melbourne, squid ink pasta
My favourite of the three entrees was the special pasta dish of the day.  Handmade squid ink linguine with a roasted cherry tomato sauce and octopus (half serve pictured).  I loved the brilliant contrasting colours of the orange/yellow/black.  Glorious, punchy tomato flavours and beautifully al dente pasta and those delicious nuggets of octopus.  Yum!

Il Bacaro, Melbourne, spaghettini with Moreton bay bugs
The spaghettini with Moreton Bay bugs is one of Il Bacaro's popular dishes and we can see why.  The sauce was an utter umami explosion.  I think this was the Lawyer's favourite dish.  If we had any leftover bread, I'm sure he would have used it to mop up every last bit of the sauce.  The bugs were fabulously meaty and tender.  Delish!

Il Bacaro, Melbourne, risotto
The risotto with Jerusalem artichokes, spanner crab and cavolo nero was intensely savoury.  The above pic shows a half entree serve. We both loved the cavolo nero powder on top and that drizzle of sauce.  Perhaps the only nit-picky comment would be that because it was so intense in flavour (but not over-salted - there's a difference, mind you) you couldn't taste the sweetness of the crab.

By this stage I was full.  But the Lawyer was keen to crack on with a few more courses.  He had planned on ordering two mains plus three desserts(!) but I knew he'd be slowing down soon!

We shared one main dish - the duck. I love a duck and this was one tasty duck.  This was duck breast, confit duck leg, beetroot puree, baby figs and nasturtium leaves (see first pic - half serve shown).  The breast was full of flavour and tender, and the confit was fall-apart-tender.  It was paired beautifully with the earthy sweetness of the beetroot and the nectar-sweet baby figs.  I loved the presentation of this dish - the brilliant shades of purple and dark red against the black plate.

Il Bacaro, Melbourne, pannacotta
It would have been inelegant to undo my belt buckle, so I valiantly ploughed on to dessert!  The Lawyer conceded that he couldn't eat three desserts, so we decided on one dish to share.  The lemon verbena pannacotta, mandarins, white chocolate sherbet and basil was sublime.  Gorgeously soft and wobbly - the best pannacotta we've ever had. Period.  This was rich but not heavy.  Light but not insubstantial.  I just loved how it wibble wobbled on my spoon and dissolved in an instant in my mouth - smooth as silk.  The dollops of mandarin curd, dehydrated mandarins and the sherbet provided a sharp citrus contrast and gave a nice puckering to the mouth.

Il Bacaro, Melbourne, pannacotta

Verdict

We loved it
We loved it.
Splurge
Splurge.

Overall

Wowser!  Il Bacaro impresses on all levels.  It's hard not to sound hyperbolic but this is seriously the best place we've ever dined at.  Not just because it's a fancy restaurant but that it does everything so well.  The food is fresh, different and flavoursome.  Even though we had many courses, the food came out a great pace - there was just enough time to sit back and enjoy each course - we weren't waiting long between courses nor were we rushed.

The service is also commendable.  The staff there are professional and knowledgeable but not stuffy.  They knew when provide service and when to give privacy.  They were chatty but not over-friendly.  They were happy to accommodate anything we wanted - a real class act!

If you're wanting to go somewhere for a special meal (sans small children) then definitely keep Il Bacaro in mind.

The Eat and Be Merry Crew dined at Il Bacaro as guests of Australian Good Food Guide.

Find it at

Il Bacaro
168-170 Little Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: (03) 9654 6778

Il Bacaro Cucina e Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

2 comments:

Melbourne Gourmand said...

Wonderful review, sounds like definitely worth a visit!

EatAndBeMerry ForTomorrowWeDiet said...

Thank you for the feedback :)
Yup, definitely worth checking out - It'll be a meal to remember!

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