Wednesday, January 5, 2011

christmas at christina's

I absolutely love Italian food, don't get me wrong, but the thing I find with Italian restaurants is that they always tend to give you an elephantine serving that makes you wonder: 'What kind of monster could eat all of this?!'

Christina's was no exception. I swear almost needed medical attention after this meal.

The interior of this place was a little odd - I don't claim to be an expert, but it definitely didn't strike me as a very Italian looking restaurant. I wasn't a fan of the colour scheme: bright red and yellow with too much wooden furniture. There was an emphasis on hanging baskets which I'm pretty sure are English, and are palm trees not are mostly associated with the tropics??

When I go out to a restaurant to eat, I go for the cultural experience as well, which I didn't quite get here. Then again, Victoria Park is probably not the best location to find the quintessential Italian restaurant.

We started off our meal with Bruschetta ($14) which read crispy italian bread with feta cheese, topped with fresh tomato, basil and garlic, and a few baskets of Italian Garlic Toast ($5.5). The garlic bread was nothing to write home about, but the Bruchetta was presented beautifully, even if it did taste pretty average. The tomato topping lacked depth of flavour and it sort of fell apart when you cut into it because it was stacked so high.

In hindsight, we probably should have ordered more adventurous intermezzi like the Fughi alla Griglia or the Zuppa Di Cozze. But alas, I wasn't in charge of ordering this time. To compensate, next time I go out for Italian I'm going to order the craziest thing on the menu. Just like old times in Thailand with Cynthia: when receiving our order was as scary and exciting as turning the crank on a jack-in-the-box. Bring it!

It was a sweltering hot summer evening, so I didn't feel like ordering creamy pasta or a huge cut of meat, even if the Lamb Shanks did look tempting. After much deliberation and skipping over the underwhelming salad menu (Bacon and Cashew Nut Salad, what the fark?) I chose the Misto Mare: A selection of prawns, scallops, squid and fish, deep-fried or grilled, served on a bed of fresh salad with Christina's tangy seafood sauce ($36).

The best part hands down was the grilled scallops with plenty of pale orange roe on them. They were lightly caramelised on the outside, and taken with a sprinkle of lemon juice: quality. I could have eaten a whole serving of those. All of the seafood was very fresh, a little sweet and had been cooked just right. And it all went perfectly with that tangy seafood sauce. Omnomnom.

Ever since I asked for the Osso Buco at Ruocco's in Fremantle off the specials chalkboard, I have been ordering the same way ever since. If it's on a chalkboard, I want it. Usually (but not always) it'll be on the specials board because the kitchen's just gotten in some fresh ingredients for it, it's seasonal, or it's a temporary item on the menu. All of these reasons appeal to me.

In this case, maybe Christina's put the Sticky Date Pudding ($10.5) on the specials chalkboard because they wanted to kill me.

When we asked how many this dessert would serve, the robust waitress said "Ahhh that one? 'At'll serve ya four, mate. It's just real big, it is." We ignored her and ordered two for four people. Big mistake.

Think four slices of toast, except instead of toast it was dense, rich date cake served in some seriously intense caramel sauce, topped with cream and ice cream. Although it was rich and gooey and yummy, there wasn't much balance in the dish. I may have been a bit ambitious ordering this one after such a big meal, but I couldn't resist... it was on a chalkboard!!

The verdict? Not a bad meal, nothing to complain about, but the food could have done with a bit more balance of flavours and textures. But at the end of the day, it didn't really matter to me what the food was like. Everyone in my family are workaholics, so this was the first meal we'd all gone out for together for about 6 months. It was good we got to spend some time together during Christmas time before my brother went overseas, and mum even cracked a few jokes (oh god).

On a final note, do excuse the crappy photos, my little black Samsung digital camera is about to kick the bucket. Just you wait, one day I'll be a well-to-do lawyer and will be able to afford a fully sick Nikon DSLR, so I can take macro shots until the cows come home.

Christina's on Urbanspoon


Conor @ Hold the Beef said...

Heading here tonight and came across this review in my pre-dinner detective work. Was also checking out the menu on their website (well, doing my best to, as it seems to be a low res scan of their hard menu) and was similarly disappointed by the weird (and pricy) salad options. Mmmmmmmmmm $26 of bacon and cashews.. just what I feel like :|

Thinking that Misto Mare will be calling my name. Typical.. I always go for the most bloody expensive thing on the menu.

bellelelephant. said...

Haha glad I could help you out, hope the Misto Mare was up to scratch for you too! You've gotta admire them for trying to be creative though...

Try covering the prices column with a napkin next time! It makes a huuuuge difference.