This lunch at Ante was in temporal proximity to Valentine’s Day but hunger was the only emotion in my mind when I suggested we go. It is a shame because the mere realisation of the date at the time could’ve turned this into a Valentine’s Day celebration rather than another year in which we did nothing for Valentine’s Day.
This travella katsu sandwich with katsu mayo ($17) was pretty good. The katsu fish, apparently minced in the same way as tsukune (the chicken meatball yakitori) had a good crunch but a very light and subtle flavour, and so most of the experience was formed by the sweet and savoury flavour of the light curry mayonnaise. I appreciated the use of a very thin, light, an soft serving of bread, which allowed all the other textures and flavours to be appreciated more clearly.
My partner and I have found ourselves struggling to resist a bit of raw seasoned beef, and Ante’s beef tartare with smoky almond and green olive ($28) was no exception. Similar to situations in which the call is coming from inside the house, the cracker of this tartare dish was coming from inside the meat, with small grains of puffed rice providing the familiar crackery texture in the mouth, whilst not at all aiding one in actually eating it as a cracker normally would. A previous menu found online had specified that their tartare was made of retired dairy cows, which I think is sadder than it is nice. The poor cow’s worked hard all her life making milk and babies, and instead of getting to live out the rest of her postmenopausal days in a nice lush green pasture somewhere, she gets diced up into tiny cubes and eaten raw. I only want to eat palliated end-of-life cow tartare from now on.
The chawanmushi with brown butter crab and herbs ($27) was described to us as large format chawanmushi, though while it turned out to be very large in terms of surface area and circumference, the plate was also much shallower than your standard. The dish was quite oily, owing to the massive amount of brown butter sauce, silky and smooth in texture, and quite sweet, giving it an almost dessert-like quality. Our waiter did say that they used the sweetest possible crab, and we were impressed not only by the sweetness but also the extreme tenderness of the crab. It was pretty good.
Last but not least was the casarecce with prawns, kanzuri, and clementine ($36). I think the one sentence description of this pasta dish would be a ‘very good, wet garlic bread’. Certainly garlic bread was the first taste that came to me, followed by a sweetness, punctuated in some mouthfuls by a hint of fresh citrus and a base of mild spiciness. Texturally the pasta was quite al dente, with harder, chewier prawns that contrasted with that of the pasta, but not to their detriment. This was a real plate licker of a dish. It was an act of cruelty to only give us one spoon.
Overall: Pretty good! Japanese-Italian fusion.
146 King St, Newtown NSW 2042