Marc and I were recently invited to have lunch at Mario's at The Dining Room in Hendra by none other than Mario himself. We were encouraged to peruse the menu online beforehand to get an idea of what was on offer. I hopped onto their website straight away and found tantalising descriptions a-plenty. Honing down to one or two dishes would be a challenge.
We chose a Friday for our lunch excursion and made our way over. As a Southside girl, I had never been to Hendra before. The suburb is dated but afluent. We found Mario's situated unsuspectingly amongst residential buildings in a rennovated cottage. The inside of the restaurant was charmingly fitted, and the resultant space was both comfortable and stylish.
Because there's no rule that restricts wine to weekends or evenings (or, if there is, it's not one that we subscribe to), Marc and I started on a glass of red each.
For our food options, we looked to Mario for his top recommendations. As suggested, we went for the whitebait fritter to share as an entree. I chose the duck parpadelle for my main, seeing that it had been tried and raved about on The Urban List. Marc went for the sandcrab lasagna.
The whitebait fritter was served as one large, whole fritter that we divided up like a pancake. It was crunchy and well-seasoned with a light texture. The fritter was accompanied by a roast vegetable salad that had just the right amount of tang to balance the dish.
Pappardelle pasta - with confit duck pieces, porcini mushrooms and truffle tapenade
My pappardelle was brought out to the table by Mario, still sizzling in the pan, before being dished out onto the serving plate. I tried a portion straight away, too impatient to wait for it to cool down. The sauce had such a complexity of flavor - earthiness from the porcini, a gamey quality from the duck and a hint of truffle. They were very robust flavors, well-suited to the thick cut of the papardelle. I liked that the pasta itself was perfectly cooked and had a good elasticity.
Marc's sandcrab lasagna was a huge portion on the plate. I tried a bit and found it to be very creamy with a tomatoey sweetness. There was ample supply of sandcrab flesh dispersed through each layer. It was a rich and decadent dish; I'm surprised Marc could polish off the whole plate! Then again, I've eaten with him enough to know better.
We had an amazing meal at Mario's. The food was excellent and it was complimented by the attentive and knowledgable service of Mario, our generous host. My dish of the day was the duck and porcini parpadelle. I'll make special mention of the fact that I loved the ambiance of the restaurant too. They've made great use of an old building, transforming it into a delightful dining space that suits both business patrons and romantic occasions.