I was completely undecided about my NYE plans for aaaages. As a spur of the moment decision, I booked a hotel in Brisbane for the night BEFORE so that I knew I'd be doing 'something' around then but wasn't actually comitting to new year eve in Brisbane.
Along with a hotel stay comes a restaurant meal. The hard part about securing a booking for this night was that most restaurants were on holidays. I finally found Tartufo and e-mailed a booking request, expecting them to say 'sorry we are shut from blah to blah'. Instead, I actually got a booking. Horrah!
Tartufo is located where Belle Epoche used to be at the Emporium. I did like Belle Epoche and a large contributing factor to that was the decor/dining space. This was maintained when Tartufo took over. The restaurant oozes plenty of old-world charm with generous amounts of booth seating in a colour scheme of red, white and black.
We were granted an end table with 2 chairs side-by-side. This is unusual but I liked it because to me, it's a bit easier to talk to someone next to you than across from you. There's less of a business/interview vibe.
Shot of canneloni bean soup
A complimentary amuse bouche of canneloni bean soup was provided. Nice but nothing that stood out.
Pane casareccio - home made bread served with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar
We ordered bread to start with. It was quite late... 9 something (remember I normally have dinner at 5pm) so we were starving. The bread was piping hot, crusty on the outside, soft on the inside and served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Absolutely delish. I had to force myself not to stuff my face with bread and instead, save room for the actual food.
Rollata di vitello - gippsland (vic) veal filled with a tomato and thyme frittata, mortadella, button mushrooms, wrapped in pancetta and served with jus and baby vegetables
For our mains, Byron chose the veal rack. I tried a bit of the meat. It was beautiful - so tender and 'milky'.
Veal bite shot
The only critisism for the meat was that it was slightly underseasoned and we didn't have salt at the table.
Pappardelle al sugo di coniglio - hand made pappardelle, served with a rabbit ragu, finished with pecorino romano and freshly cracked black pepper
I was really craving pasta and ordered the parpardelle with rabbit ragu as a main. At first I thought the pasta was a bit too undercooked for me (too chewy rather than 'just' al dente) but soon, the whole dish grew on me. It was really quite simple but had a great harmony of flavors. I slurped up every last bit.
Insalata di pomodoro - tomato salad with spanish onion, fresh mint, extra virgin olive oil and pepper
We also asked for a side of tomato salad. We're not sure what they did to these tomatoes but they were magic. Byron is something of a tomato critic (I've actually been told off in the past for purchasing poor quality tomoatoes that were unsuitable for cooking) and went gaga over this dish. It is another example of simple yet exquisite.
Dessert time rolled around. Byron ordered a cappucino. As usual for when I try coffee at fine dining restaurants, it really exceeded my expectations. I find good restaurant coffee to be more intense and memorable than good cafe coffee. If that even makes sense...
Pannacotta al miele - honey infused pannacotta served with honeycomb and pear jellies
Byron and I were being pigs that night and ordered a dessert each. He chose the panna cotta and I tried a bit. The actual panna cotta portion of the dessert was creamy and lush and smooth but I wasn't crazy about the jelly component.
Sfogliatella napoletana - traditional neapolitan desert made from flaky pastry, filled with ricotta and cedro, served with a lemon puree, redcurrant coulis and fresh blueberries
My own dessert was supposed to be the soft fried dough but what I got instead was actually the flaky pastry dessert. Unfortunately I didn't even figure it out until I had nearly finished the whole thing. I knew I didn't like it that much but because both those desserts were unfamiliar to me, I was too late in putting 2 and 2 together. It just goes to show that when you put something sweet in front of me, I will eat it :).
I actually really liked Tartufo. It wasn't perfect but the food was definitely an above-average experience for me. The service was attentive without being annoying and the atmosphere is lovely.