Restaurant Review: St. Katherine’s
Gourmet Sartorialist doing a restaurant review? Reviews aren’t part of my usual blogging repertoire but I’m looking to expand my horizons. Feedback is appreciated!
On the 24th of November, my parents treated me to a casual celebratory 20th birthday lunch at Shane Deliah and George Colombaris’s restaurant St. Katherine’s in Kew. Yet another Press Group brain child. Despite St. Kat’s surprisingly low Urbanspoon rating of 61%, after reading the menu I was not deterred, having dined at Hellenic Republic and The Press Club.
The menu features Greek and Middle Eastern inspired dishes (dips, ancient grain salad, haloumi etc), as well as an array of cheeky crowd pleasers such as the KFC bucket (St. Kat’s Fried Chicken), and nostalgic “Mrs. Whippy” ice-cream sundaes with decadent toppings.
St. Kat’s layout has a relaxed feel and isn’t stuffy; I liked the open space and fresh interiors. The waitresses were attentive and helpful, filling up our water and taking our orders swiftly etc. We shared a forgettable cocktail jug of Sangria ($35), a mix of Red Wine, Creme de Cassis, Creme de Peche, cinnamon & vanilla syrup, orange juice, fresh lemon, garnished with orange & maraschino cherries. It only served about 4 1/2 glasses, and was so concentrated and sweet that we all watered it down.
Now to the food. For starters: Taramasolata–white cod roe dip($9.50), Spiced carrot and pumpkin dip ($9), and the Hummus with smoked almond dressing ($9). All the dips were light and silky. The taramasolata was quite salty for my taste and I wouldn’t order it again. The carrot dip with yoghurt and ras el hanout was something different and tasty. The hummus was nice with an oil-based smoked almond dressing lending a subtle yet much-needed lift to this classic.
Next was a cheese overload. Grilled haloumi with apricots, pinenuts and mint ($10), and the Handmade ricotta ($9) delicately seasoned with lemon zest, mint and olive oil. Both were small for the price, but rich enough to still satisfy the table. I loved the haloumi, with its sweet fruitiness from the apricots and currants cutting the salty cheese. The ricotta was soft and creamy but didn’t wow anyone.
Then mains. First were two Turkish pizzas from the “wood fired oven,” shaped like pastry boats. Pide 1 was filled with mint, ricotta, haloumi and peppered figs ($15), a little hard to eat after having already eaten the entree haloumi and ricotta dishes (a faux pas on our part). Also the pizza was very deep so a lot of cheese was packed in. Pide 3 was filled with a generous amount of basturma (cured beef), mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes and basil ($18). It wasn’t as heavy as Pide 1 and the sweet tomato complimented the thin slivers of crispy basturma perfectly. The pizzas were great value and enjoyed by all.
But we weren’t finished. Out came our Adna (Turkish lamb kebab) with babaganoush, tomato, mint, parsely and sumac ($24). The minced lamb was just cooked to pink; a minute less and it may have been slightly under. The meat was tender but again salt was dominating the other subtle spices. I was highly anticipating the babaganoush (smoked eggplant dip), but only a little to be found. It was not one of the better value dishes. As accompaniment we shared a delicious bowl of Puffed & BBQ corn salad with smoked almond dressing, herbs and shaved red onion ($12), a delight to eat with the sweet and slightly smoky corn kernels and crunchy bursts of puffed corn – would recommend.
What would a birthday lunch be without dessert? The Peanut butter parfait with chocolate sorbet, baklava crumbs and orange blossom foam ($14.90) tasted sensational and was fantastic value. The frozen parfait was a smooth creamy texture and had a real salty peanut kick. The orange blossom foam light and airy, with delicate floral notes that contrast the generous slick of oozy salted caramel on the plate (I could’ve seriously eaten a bowl of it.) The waitress presented my dessert with a birthday sparkler which was sweet. We rounded off the meal with Greek coffees that came with a little cube of chocolate (?) cake – a cute touch.
Everyone was satisfied with the quality and agreed the Urbanspoon rating is definitely harsh. The quality of the ingredients and produce was evident, and the food was wholesome, honest and no frills. The service was very good and our dishes came out fast (probably due to the fact that our sitting only allowed us 2 hours to eat). Downside – certain elements were a little salty for my liking, and perhaps at times portion sizes could’ve been a better value for money. But everyone left feeling full and the dessert ensured that my birthday at St. Kat’s ended on a high! We would return.
(Apologies for the lack of images, I didn’t decide to do a review on the restaurant till after I’d been there– rookie mistake, I know.)