Union Square, Pyrmont
Friday night and some friends were coming over for dinner and a spa. The flatmates looked knowingly at me and repeated, "Coming over for a spa, eh?" when I told them. "Yes, just a spa!" I replied. Bf and I seem to have developed a bit of a reputation with friends "coming over for a spa" so now something so totally innocent and relaxing has such sexual overtones.
Anyway, it was a toss-up (ooh er) between the Taiwanese takeaway Grain, or Italian. I had originally planned to make spinach ricotta cannelloni but to my dismay, the ricotta had started to ferment, I ran out of unsalted butter and there was no whole milk to make the bechamel. This was almost enough to put a frazzled end-of-the-working-week me into tears. Well, mock tears with a fake temper tantrum on the bed before the bf told me to snap out of it and stop messing up the bedsheets.
Our friends arrived and we went to Café XXII a local joint that bf is quite fond of. They obviously plan to be there for a long time because they've engraved XXII into the step leading to their café.
The menu here is small, only about four entrées and six mains. But a nice number given the size of the establishment which seats about 20 people at full capacity.
There is a blackboard menu with a nice variety of pasta, meat, chicken, risotto dishes (one of each). We elected to share a plate of XXII calamari which was floured, deep fried and served with some spring onions. Lovely fresh seafood flavour but a little bland. They also weren't as crisp as I'd like them.
I elected to have a king prawn risotto with dolce latte (blue cheese). Bf had the chicken saltimbocca with steamed asparagus whilst N had rotelle pasta and his bf J had the kumera and provolone ravioli with sage butter.
The best executed dish I think would have been the ravioli. It was certainly the most interesting with the brown butter and sage sauce. Rotelle pasta turned out to be pinwheels which was very cute. This was served with a speck (german smoked ham) and tomato sauce. Bf's grilled chicken looked a little lonely on top of steamed asparagus spears. My risotto was perfectly cooked with even grains and a light creamy texture. The king prawns were fresh, flavoursome and delicious.
I can't fault the cooking but the menu was a little on the unimaginative side. They claim to be modern Italian food - this is correct. It's definitely not stick-to-your-ribs stuff; we were concerned at the small servings at first but we were comfortably full at the end.
I had a glass of chianti with the meal, which alleviated my traumatised state. My ricotta worries were well and gone by now.
Oh, and the spa was lovely innocent and NO naughty business eventuated, I'll have you know.
Entrées: $11 to $15
Mains: $15 to $21