The first months of a new job are always such a learning curve. While I had some advantage over others in that I had previous exposure to the sector in which I now work, there have been some dramatic developments in the past few years that necessitate quite intensive study.
One component of this was attending an all-day seminar in Doncaster, about a month after I started my job. In this seminar, an expert from Canada presented strategies and real-life case studies demonstrating best practice in the sector. How’s that for cryptic – I still haven’t revealed the sector I’m now working in! (FWIW it’s in social services.)
I took advantage of the north-east location and met up with my friend Jake for an early dinner after the seminar in his local area of Mitcham. It’s not often I find myself in that part of town, and I decided that I might as well take advantage of my Entertainment Book voucher for a 2-for-1 main course offer at Bucatini Restaurant on Whitehorse Road.
The restaurant was particularly quiet on the Monday night we were there, but with tables enough for 100 people (and a private dining room as well), I expect that they do most of their trade catering to larger family groups later in the week. It did mean that we got quick and friendly service though, given there were only a handful of tables to wait on.
The menu is a rather generic ‘modern Australian’ menu, meaning that dishes have influences from a variety of European countries with a primarily Italian influence. Jake’s choice of the Pollo, a grilled chicken dish that’s not dissimilar to a recipe that I’d seen in Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food recipe book, was a good example of this Italian inspiration.
The prosciutto and thyme sauce seems to be a particularly Italian addition to what would otherwise have been a fairly simple grilled chicken breast served with potatoes, mushroom and spinach. The sauce was quite superb – extremely rich and more than a little decadent.
My Fish of the Day was a beautiful salmon fillet – while cooked quite a bit more than I would normally prefer, this did result in a super-crispy caramelised skin that went particularly well with the zesty citrus salsa. While I wasn’t a big fan of the fennel or leek (that’s personal preference, I don’t love aniseed-esque flavours), I did love the crispy roasted rosemary and garlic potatoes. I’d be quite happy to have them with all my meals!
We deliberated for barely a minute over whether or not to order dessert. After all, the answer is surely always yes? Jake ordered the Vanilla Creme Brulee which came with a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream on the side. The caramelised top of the brulee gives a particularly satisfying crack as you break through to vanilla custard inside, but to be honest, it paled in comparison to the rich flavours of my choice of dessert.
The Sticky Date Pudding is where it’s at when it comes to dessert. Soft, warm, buttery sticky date sponge pudding drenched in a stickily sweet butterscotch sauce was a particularly decadent choice. It was particularly rich though, and needed the refreshing vanilla ice-cream to help cleanse the palate.
I imagine Bucatini Restaurant is much like any other suburban restaurant offering modern Australian cuisine to large family groups. The food is tasty though nothing particular or out of the way, the staff are friendly and familiar. However, it lacks any particular distinctive element that makes one want to rush back for a second meal unless you happen to be part of a large family living in that area with it as your local restaurant.
Bucatini Restaurant and Bar is located at 454 Whitehorse Road in Mitcham.