I don't know about anyone else but I am personally LOVING all the new establishments that have sprouted up in the M and A centre. Whilst other girls might get excited about luxury retail precincts, my heart beats faster at the thought of all these delicious restaurants gathered in one location. Jenny told me about her visit to Locanda a few months back and the feedback was mostly positive so I was keen to give it a try. Marc and I made a date night of it last Tuesday night.
Firstly, a word of advice. We are terrible at finding parking in places like the CBD and Valley; we normally catch a bus or park far away and walk to where we need to go. On this occasion, we were running late and we drove right into the underground parking at M and A. It was $10 for 4 hours after 6pm on a weeknight, which isn't too bad but I didn't find out until after we'd come back home that we could have had our parking ticket validated at Locanda. So for others who intend to drive there, that's going to be your best option.
We got there on a weeknight after the Australia Day long weekend so things were looking fairly quiet all across the precinct. If anything, Locanda probably had the most amount of diners that night. We took up one of the outside tables to enjoy the evening breeze.
The hardest part of the whole night was making the decision not to order any pasta. We both really wanted to try the trio of meats and figured that ordering a pasta dish on top of that would be too much food. Sometimes in life, one must make sacrifices.
Daily baked bread - with olive oil
We started with a plate of bread, which arrived warm with olive oil for dipping. Truth be told, this is my favourite way to eat artisan bread. Good quality olive oil and salt is far better for showcasing honest fresh, tasty bread than any fancy dip which only serves to mask it. The olive oil at Locanda was beautifully light and fruity and tasted amazed soaked up into the luscious loaf.
Three roasted meats selection
Our starter lined our tummies suitably in preparation for the main fare. I was picturing carnivore God level epic and I wasn't disappointed. The trio of meats presented is quite the sight to behold. We were walked through each of the components and their matching sauces. When our waitress recommended this platter, she advised that it does not come with sides so we also ordered green beans to balance the meal.
The first item I tried was the spit roast beef. I have a preformed image in my mind of spit roast meat being dry and stringy. This beef dispelled my misconceptions in one foul swoop. It was soooo tasty. The beef was visibly rosy pink and tasted exactly as perfect as it looked. Each morsel was tender and juicy and the crust had a punch of saltiness that lifted every bite. Marc and I went to a balsamic vinegar tasting as part of a food tour through Bologna, Italy. We were told about the merits of topping cooked meat with balsamic dressing but I never got to sample the combination until Locanda. The sweet and tangy richness of balsamic does wonders for beef. I'm not sure how it would compliment the other meats but beef and balsamic is a go.
A second view
I next tasted the roast chicken. Chicken for me is generally a non-event unless it's deed fried and crunchy. The chicken tasted fine but wasn't as much of a standout as the beef. Marc, who is less stuck up about chicken than me also agrees but he did like the accompanying gravy.
I was quite full when I grabbed a bit of the pork, which disappointed me because I love pork and regretted not moving it ahead of the chicken. The roast pork at Locanda has a supremely crunchy crackling and tender flesh. Pork in general is very fatty so the lemon caper dressing worked wonders in cutting through the richness. I would've definitely eaten more of this if I wasn't so full.
Beans with confit onion and speck
The beans acted as a perfect interlude between all these cuts of protein. They were just blanched to a bright green and tossed through a fragrant buttery sauce with exciting dots of bacony bits.
We were definitely full to capacity by the end of this main course but as an example of how glutinous drunks have no self control, I ordered a dessert to share without a) consulting Marc and b) even realizing what I was doing.
Bocconotto - traditional chocolate and almond tart served with vanilla ice-cream
Next thing we knew, our dessert was presented. It was recommended to us by our waiter as something that was refreshingly different from the typical old classics like tiramisu and panna cotta. The bocconotto is a chocolate almond tart, which I enjoyed because it's not something we have often. It was served with a creamy vanilla ice-cream and meringue fragments.
Date night at Locanda was a total success. The food was delicious. In particular I wholeheartedly recommend the roast beef. It was divine. The atmosphere in the M and A Centre is lovely and fresh and the service we experienced from Locanda on the night was personal, friendly and very efficient.