Cantina never disappoints me.
I said this a long time ago…and I maintain that this holds true till today. Last night I went to Cantina 663 with my new friends and an old friend. Everyone loved it. The service, the atmosphere and the quality food for the sophisticated palate made a killer combination.
To begin with we had the Smoked Kingfish, tomato, grapes, parsley, walnut sherry dressing ($16.50). This is my favourite dish of the night. The crunchy leaves, croutons, grapes and tomatoes with the creamy nutty walnut dressing which was…all I can describe it as is surprising. Surprising in a really good way! I loved it – especially with the amazing smoky Kingfish – still raw on the inside. Beautiful. Everyone mmm-ed at this.
Another simple but good thing Cantina always delivers is great sourdough bread chargrilled ($4). Each of us had a piece. Crisp on the outside, dense on the inside..fragrant to the max.
The cuttlefish ($17) was lovely fried to a crispy coating yet remaining succulent. Served on a bed of cream fraiche and pimento salt, the cuttlefish was given an ‘edge’ with the house chilli served on the side in a cute little jar. It wasn’t spicy but it was tasty and almost sweet. For a while I thought it was a tomato relish!
Theresa is a big fan of the gnocchi so we ordered the pan fried gnocchi, leek puree, almonds, charred onion and buffalo mozzarella ($25.50). She’s right. The gnocchi was really fluffy and described by Shini as ‘Melt in your mouth’. With the subtle flavour of leek puree, crunchy almonds, fluffy creamy mozzarella and topped with fresh basil, this dish is immensely hearty and satisfying.
The tagliatelle nero, local crab, roast tomato, chilli, lemon, caper ($32.50) was a little bit disappointing because we were expecting the crab flavour to come through. The capers must have been the culprit for making the dish overly tangy. Jay really likes this dish though. The noodles – as described – are black (nero) from squid ink! I prefer my noodles a little more al dente but Theresa thought it was perfect.
The boys didn’t have enough so we ordered two rounds of Arroz, crispy lamb shoulder, carrot cumin relish, mint ($27.50). The whole dish was topped with sultanas and carrot. The rice was coated in a tomato like sauce and rich flavours from the slow cooked lamb. The lamb fell apart easily. For most of the group, this was the favourite.
The boys also had a serve of Rosa’s chorizo with house pickles ($14). Boys just love their sausages don’t they?
Now for the best part. Desserts!
The first and the favourite - Banana bread pudding, custard and peanut butter ice cream ($14). The warm banana bread and butter pudding was smooth and rich – smoothed out by a subtle peanut butter ice cream and vanilla custard. It was to die for. All I thought as I ate this was ‘ COMFORT FOOD ‘. Great flavours!
Next, the strawberry panna cotta, white chocolate, blueberries ($14) although I didn’t see any blueberries. Instead, chopped up strawberries with mint (killer combo). The panna cotta is like how it should be – not too gelatinous, creamy. Once it touches your tongue, it should just disintegrate with all that flavour. Yum. The strawberry ice cream served with was more fruity than creamy. This is a good choice if you are after something light.
Finally, the beautifully presented chocolate mousse orange puree, carajillo ice cream ($14). I had to google carajillo – it is a Spanish drink that mixes coffee and rum or brandy. This dessert is for ADULTS. The ice cream and even the mousse was really…alcoholic. So you know you will enjoy this if you enjoy a strong coffee! The mousse is beautifully airy – sandwiched between rich chocolate pieces.