Via Alta, Willoughby
Via Alta means High Street in Italian, so it made perfect sense that this restaurant was located on High Street in Willoughby. From the same group that brought us the fine dining Ormeggio, Via Alta is a more casual Italian trattoria serving some great seasonal fare.
We started with the Crab meat bruschetta. The crab meat was beautifully cooked and had a lovely flavour from the burnt butter sauce, complemented by the crunchy macadamias. It was a great teaser to whet our appetite.
Next was the Bresaola, a form of air dried beef, served with some caper berries. I love cured meats, and this had a nice saltiness to it without being overpowering.
Risotto, as we've all seen on Masterchef, can be easy to get wrong. This Saffron risotto had a great aroma as it hit our table. It was cooked al dente and was paired with the luscious, red wine braised beef cheeks. A simple dish executed to perfection.
The Grilled flank steak was another highlight of the night. The beef was just simply stunning, cooked to a perfect medium rare. The roasted beetroot puree added a great depth of flavour and I also particularly enjoyed the potato gratin. Often, it can be too creamy and heavy, but they got the potato, cream and butter ratio just right. The dish just tied together so beautifully.
For dessert, we opted for the Tiramisu. Again, it was beautifully executed. Not too sweet, not too much alcohol - the balance of the dish was just perfect and it was surprisingly light.
Via Alta is a great Italian eatery serving some beautiful dishes. It's worth the drive to Sydney's north even if you are not a local.
There's no shortage of cafes on the lower north shore but not many serve as delicious food as Cavalier Specialty Coffee in Crows Nest.
But first, the coffee. I decided to go for the Chai Latte and it was velvety smooth with just the right balance of sweetness and spice.
For the food, we decided to go with the waitstaff's recommendation and ordered the Juniper cured ocean trout and the Hand made burrata with smoked almonds and cucumber.
First to arrive was the Ocean Trout which looked almost too pretty to eat, almost. The trout was beautifully cured and egg was perfectly cooked, interspersed with the mayonnaise, the buttery crumb and shards of toasted rye. The sprinkling of caviar just added that extra touch of decadence.
The Burrata was another beautifully constructed dish. Burrata on its own is already pretty tasty, but the crunchy smoked almonds and the refreshing cucumber soup really elevate it to a whole other level. The waitress advised that it's best to be shared as it's quite heavy, but I probably could have eaten it all myself!
The dish came with a croissant and a slice of rye bread, perfect for soaking up all those delicious juices.
Service was friendly and enthusiastic. I will no doubt be back again to sample the rest of the menu. Seating is limited in this cafe so be prepared to wait for a seat if you come during peak times.
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