Estivo in Kew had been on our “must try” list for some time, so we decided to celebrate our 17 year anniversary (whoa!) and kicked off our evening with a nicely priced bottle of Shiraz ($45). The fit-out was clean and sharp – and classic. Things seemed good…But as our bottle of wine was fetched then poured, it became very clear the restaurant was short staffed, with a newbie (not in age, but in the polish of his being able to wait tables to today’s crowd) delegated to our table. Initially we didn’t mind, we’re pretty relaxed people; however, by the end of our meal, we did wish we had a more experienced server for our anniversary. Why? Well, our guy continually ill-timed his table-side chats with us, made quite a few strange comments, and either couldn’t – or ignored – the awkward pauses and body language that usually tips-off servers to be on their way. Let’s just say, the service for us on this evening was less than desirable.
But enough about service, let’s talk food. Hubby Bear started off with the Seared scallops ($20) with chorizo and a few smears of red pepper sauce. The scallops were cooked well and tasted fine, sauce was good too, but hubby wasn’t a fan of the flavour mix of the scallop with the chorizo as he ate. Granted that’s his personal taste, so while the dish was okay, it didn’t make it onto any favourite lists for him.
I started with Tart ($16) with tomatoes and olives, goats cheese, and olive tapenade. All I can say is it was unusual. It was deconstructed with the pastry being just that – pastry – nothing in or under it. However, sitting on top of it was a big dollop of olive tapenade and another of goats cheese. The four halved cherry tomatoes were fixed atop small bits of tapenade and cheese. To keep from choking on the dry pastry (my mistake to think I could just cut the “tart” and eat it), I had to mush the moisture out of the tomatoes with the spread, and then sparingly smear it onto each crumbly piece of pastry. While the bits I managed to eat – with all the ingredients in a single bite – were quite tasty, it was clumsy to orchestrate and when I did succeed, they were few and far between. You could say, I wasn’t a fan, no thumbs up from me.
Hubby’s main was the Wild Barramundi ($37) in a lovely prawn bisque, butter poached clams and mussels. Overall quality and flavour combinations were solid here, they made up the ground they lost on him with the entree. However nice it was, the piece of fish was quite thin, like a sliver; just a fraction of what you’d expect to get (and what he has gotten from places like Va Tutto and Mister Bianco) for the price. Not a real deal breaker, but just sayin’.
My main of Risotto ($27) with asparagus, peas, baby leek, and Parmesan was nicely cooked and seasoned well. Nothing to write home about, but compared to my entree experience, I was just happy to have a dish that I knew wasn’t going to choke me! This course for me has a lovely flavour in each mouthful. Finally, a thumbs-up!
We ordered a few sides, one a Rucola Salad ($8) with sliced green apple, walnuts and Parmesan. A classic in terms of taste, but I’m used to getting big shaved slices of Parmesan on this sort of salad, and not the tiny slivers you usually see on pasta. But hey, it was nice and we ate it!
The other two sides we tried were the Roasted Potatoes ($9) and Beetroot Salad ($8), of which the latter isn’t pictured because they forgot it and had to make it pretty late in our meal. The potatoes were nice, as you’d expect, and the beetroot salad was okay. That may be a tainted comment about the beetroot only because, by the time it arrived, we were full and the flavour was probably lost on us.
Overall, we were disappointed with the evening here. It wasn’t any one particular thing that made it disappointing, it was the culmination of a lot of little things. Half of the dishes were good, and while the service wasn’t to today’s standard, it was okay. I suppose we were just expecting something a bit more magical, and a bit more special, from a place like this. Estivo was probably a real local ‘gem’ back in their heyday – but they seem to have lost their shine. Maybe you’ll fair better if and when you go…
Address: 330 High Street, Kew Victoria 3101, Australia
Tip! They have a 2-course and 3-course lunch deal that seems good value, which you may want to try if you want to ‘test’ the waters here!