Culina et Vinum
Shop 1, 19-23 Elizabeth Bay Rd,
Elizabeth Bay, NSW, 2011
Lunch: 12pm-3pm & Dinner 6pm-10pm
Breakfast Saturday & Sunday: 8am-11:30am
Stomach meets Happiness…
In our minds, there are three key factors that combine to create the ultimate dining experience:
We think everyone can agree, finding a perfect 10 for all three is a near impossible task, no matter how far, wide or high we search, there is always something a little off (e.g. please silence your child).
On this occasion however, we may have found it.
If you cast your mind back to last weekend – pouring with rain and so cold it’s worthy of a jumper and a coat – there’s nowhere you’d rather be than home, rugged up and cosy.
But like the good little foodies we are, we headed out. Leaving the house was a struggle, parking = painful (idiots, why did we drive?), 55 layers to keep warm and soaking wet suede boots…. The mood was as damp as our hair.
Then we met Culina et Vinum, the 6-month-old Elizabeth Bay restaurant, baby of head chef, Naomi Lowry (Biota and Popolo), serving up a combination of European cuisines.
The door weighed a tonne but once inside the wet shoes and hair seemed worth it.
If you could walk into a restaurant and feel like you’re walking into Grandma’s house, this would be it. The perfect combination of cosy, welcoming and food.
We managed to snag ourselves a corner table, perfect for people, kitchen and food watching. The decor is a mix of industrial and ‘lil bit rustic, combined with European ‘homey’ touches, a wall of wine and like any good space, greenery. Yes, we’re observational.
The meal was kicked off with a Jerusalem Artichoke soup served in an espresso mug… Sounds weird but if we could have a bucket of it now we would.
For entrees we had bakery breads, chilli and caperberry olives, followed by our favourite, Grilled Quail with cracked wheat, orange, herbs & pomegranate dressing with sumac yoghurt ($27) and the Salami Board ($24).
The staff were exceptional. There really isn’t another word for it. They took their time and went through the menu with us, answered all our questions and gave us background on all the meals and their ingredients. And no, it wasn’t just us, the super famous Hunter and Bligh. Everyone in the restaurant had the same treatment; waiters, chefs, coming out to chat as if they were old friends.
Choosing mains was a tough decision, the menu isn’t ginormous but everything sounds so damn good – deciding on dinner is way too much responsibility for us.
After significant deliberation we settled on the Market Fish with cauliflower puree, capers and pine nuts ($34) – deeeeeee-llliiiiicccciiiiiii-ooooouuuuuussssssss – and the Pasta special, a heavenly house made Malloreddus alla Carloforte – of swordfish, tomato and basil pesto (made without cheese) and love.
Somehow, we made room for dessert. And boy are we glad we did.
Culina produces some kind of magic when they serve up The Chocolate Cigar. A biscuit cigar, filled with a rich ganache, served with torched lemon pannacotta and coffee crumbs… Yes, it was every bit as decadent and heavenly as it sounds.
As each table got up to leave, each weighing an extra 10kgs, head chef Naomi, stuck her head through the kitchen and thanked them for coming and asked if they enjoyed their meal.
It’s definitely the little details that are vital, especially when it comes to food and service.
Little things make big things happen and we can assure you, Culina et Vinum, is a big thing that has happened.