Tuesday night date night had come around once again. Fortunately there was not much to think about this time around because luckily enough we were invited to come and dine at Vessel Italian. Situated on the ground floor of the new Macquarie building it is easy to get to and would be perfect for those wanting something to peck on after the Friday booze sessions especially as the silly season approaches.
After finding parking on nearby Hickson Road Gianna and I meandered down toward Vessel lapping up the sun on this balmy Tuesday night. I must admit that nothing beats the summer weather, sun shine and good food - exactly what was in store for the evening. Having booked an early table, we were able to admire this beautiful restaurant before the other guests started to arrive.
Vessel has a very good location and when the sun is out and fills the space inside you can't help but feel that you are out having Sunday lunch, such a good respite for those slogging through yet another rough day at the office. Its location is prime for CBD workers who just want to whisk themselves to a elegant space and forget about looming deadlines. It is a beautiful venue and makes good use of the space. Open, airy with lots of light and accentuated with glass, steel and timber - it's like an architect's dream. I really liked the chairs, honeycomb openings matching the honeycomb cladding of the building, a nice touch. Once settled and seated we were given the menu and our friendly waitress suggest we begin with stuzzichinni (starters).
Along with the delicious bread, a selection of mixed marinated olives arrive with some crunchy grissini, a perfect accompaniment as we go through the menu
We also started with Suppi 'al telephono - fried saffron risotto balls with mozzarella and basil. There were a few starters that sounded quite delectable such as the asparagialla milanesse - grilled asparagus with poached truffled egg and parmesan but we settled on something small to get going. Nonetheless I think you can't ever go wrong with olives. Throw some bread in the mix, some olive oil and salt and you can sit quietly and eat to your hearts content. Well that's what I think anyway, must be the Greek in me - please ignore my momentary Mediterranean inspired musings.
With the help of our ever friendly waitress we ordered some wine to kick back and take the edge off the day. We decided on a bottle of Angelicus Toscana Sangiovese. Tonight it would seem would be the law of the I's – Italian restaurant, Italian wine, Italian food. A nice bottle of wine to compliment the great food on offer - a light and fragrant wine that was too easy to drink - it wasn't heavy at all for a balmy spring evening. Lucky for Gianna, I was the one driving that night.
Wine lovers can rejoice at the selection of local and imported bottles which absolutely compliment the dishes on offer. There is a nice display of the fare on offer in front of the kitchen window, it's nice to sit and look and drift away with the thought of sitting down and drinking through all of those bottles. Ooops there I go again sounding like an alcoholic. The point is that there is a good variety of wines from different countries and regions that can be mixed and matched to serve as the perfect compliment to your meal. On this occasion our Tuscan wine was the perfect companion to our meal - taking us away to some Italian vineyard far away from the drab of Sydney. Well not quite but it was a pretty good drop.
Perusing through the menu we were now ready to decide on entrees and mains. There was a good selection of pizzas and pastas that all sounded really tasty. Con Tartufo being one such pizza - spinach and asparagus with fontina and black truffle. Come to think of it now pretty much anything with truffle is pretty much always a favourite. I struggle to think of a time when we didn't like truffle. There is a funny story involving Gianna and a truffle related incident but i'll save that for another day.
For entrees we ended up getting the wagyu bresaoloa with savoy cabbage, green beans and parmesan and the calamari with aioli. The bresaola looked delicious and so meticulously assembled I almost felt bad when it came down to breaking it apart to eat. But oh it was so good. A big fan of carpaccio this dish was everything and more we could've hoped for. The simplicity of the dish just highlights the excellent quality of produce that Vessel offer, bringing all the fresh flavours together in each bite.
The calamari with aoli was also very gratifying. Cooked to a perfect crisp, extremely well seasoned and very fresh. It tasted like the ocean. Perfect. It's nice having seafood that tastes of its origin - the sea!
Moving onto the business end of things by this stage we were deciding on the mains for the evening.On offer was a variety of meat and seafood dishes and a selection of pasta, risotto and gnocchi. Gianna settled on ordering the seared salmon with bagna cauda dressing and I was moved to try the scalopine di vitello - pan fried veal.
The salmon was brought out to the table and the first thought that came to mind was simply wow. It looked amazing. The salmon was golden brown, the vegetables were arranged beautifully and the colours jumped off the plate. I was so jealous, and rightly so because it tasted as good as it looked. The fish was juicy and perfectly cooked and the vegetables were firm and that sauce was just plain good. Gianna looked as though she was enjoying it too much because she didn't really want to give any away.
Above : The perfectly cooked salmon with a selection of spring vegetables.
Even though the salmon was superb, I can hardly complain about my veal. Pan fried the way my mum would make it and served with sauteed portobello mushrooms and thyme on a bed of wilted spinach, I believe this dish sums up Italian food for me. Simple, tasty and well cooked. Squeezing out lemon juice and sprinkling a bit more salt - I just didn't want to give any to Gianna, it was very nice.
To add to our mains we ordered something very interesting that we had never seen or tried before - a grilled and slow roasted spanish onion with gorgonzola dolce. Served on a bed of polenta and sprinkled with pine nuts, it was a very tasty addition to our dinner. The sweetness of the onion and the mix of polenta and gorgonzola made this dish a standout because the flavours and textures just worked so well. My only complaint would have to be that there was no bread at this stage to mop up the remains.
How to top off an amazing dinner you might ask? With desert of course, and what could be any more Italian than a tiramisu? (Rhetorical question mind you).
With a strong coffee flavour and sweet creamy mascarpone sprinkled with dark chocolate flakes, it was a good end to such a lovely meal. With very little room in our tummies however, we decided to share - only this time though!
All in all we had a fabulous time at Vessel Italian, enjoyed an amazing meal and thoroughly enjoyed their hospitality. Empty plates, glasses and big smiles all around - it was a meal that gave us a moment of bliss in a hectic workweek - and provided us with the motivation to tackle the week ahead. Good food, and in this case, great Italian food, just works wonders.
Above photo - The Vessel Indoor Bar area - spacious and slick, good for those Friday nights where the boss slaps the company card on the bar
Above and Below photos - Vessel's sharp interior reflects the modern design of the ultra modern Maquarie building, take note of the honeycomb chairs.
So tell us, food loving friends - does an awesome meal mid-week take the stress away? Well - in our case it sure did! Here's to counting down to the silly season - until then, Gianna and I will surely be planning to have another relaxing wine glass or two along with some delicious food at Vessel again.
Vessel Italian - 1 Shelley Street, King Street Wharf Sydney 02 9295 5070
Opening : Vessel Italian - Mon-Fri 12:00pm - 3:00pm; 5:30pm - late