Bistro Bakini Rustic and Engaging
Bistro Bakini is a modern Italian eatery run by a Greek, and pleases with its rustic and accessible cuisine. Sometimes its the owner or wait staff that can make or break a dining experience. At Bistro Bakini it was a case of the owner Stavros adding to the colour and pleasure of the evening. The World Loves Melbourne was invited to experience Bistro Bakini on St Kilda Rd on a blustery winter's night.
Bistro Bakini is a rewarding place to take your partner, group or dine alone. the fit out is modern with long bar and large windows overlooking an upmarket precinct on St Kilda Rd. Nearby is the Mantra Horel for which Bistro Bakini has some links. We were suprised at the full attendance on a cold Melbourne week night.
Bistro Bakini delights with rustic style cooking. This is food made with love and care and without pretension. Stavros the owner is visibly proud of his kitchen staff and the food they cook. He says its like home cooking, but with a skilled chef who delivered across all dishes.
Check out the Olive Ascolane above with stuffed green olives deep fried and crumbed above. These stuffed olives were rich but rewarding...
When it comes to rustic cuisine there's nothing better than a decent croquette. Some restaurants don't get the filling to be sufficiently creamy and leave you with a gluggy uninspiring dish. Not so at Bistro Bakini where the Potatoes and baccala croquette with capers aoli was delightfully creamy on the inside and firm and crispy on the outside.
The next dish was spectacular - Seppioline In Umido - a Cuttlefish soup with silverbeet, chilli tomato, and garlic. I could stay here in this place and imbibe. To top it all off we were supplied with fresh bread to dip into our meal Italian style. So good.
Stavros wasn't wrong when he said this was hearty rustic home styled cooking. We'd enjoyed the meal so far and were keen for more,
Stavros brought us a shot of vodka every so often - fine vodka with melon hues served ultra cold - with Stavros raising a shot glass himself to drink with customers. I enjoyed some banter with this passionate owner and lover of Italian (and Greek) food.
The Capasante Alla Griglia were a particular highlight, featuring Hervey Bay Scallops, with caramelised onions vernaccia, and bread crumbs. The quality of the scallops is undisputed, and the onions and crunch of the bread crumbs were a delight.
The rustic journey continued with this Ribolita, featuring Tuscan style vegetable soup, extra virgin olive oil and croutons. I was impressed with the colours and hearty flavours of this soup - so Tuscany.
This had been a string of satisfying dishes. Bistro Bakini has the touch of Nonna all over it...
Again we enjoyed a hearty dish in this Burrata mozzarella and eggplant, with confit tomato - with resonation of smoky flavours a hit. How does the chef get such smoky flavours from the eggplant?
Bistro Bakini staff were all engaging, including a novice who was working his first night like a pro.
Gnocchi action was next - Gnocchi Con Spinachi E Gorgonzola E Noci featuring house made potato gnocchi, gorgonzola, spinach and walnuts. With shaved parmesan on top it was a beautiful dish. The gnocchi was like soft pillows.
By now we were satiated. The Slow braised ox cheeks, barley risotto & cooking jus also hit the mark. The ox cheeks were rich and flavours wonderfully strong, balanced by the barley risotto.
Bistro Bakini also delivers when it comes to desserts, with this tasting plate bringing a strong finish to the evening (apart from Stavros bringing another vodka) including Bomboloni Con Nutella and Soft centre chocolate pudding bitter chocolate mousse.
Bistro Bakini was a delightful if not playful experience which brought us into the best of rustic Italy. This is my kind of food. Highly recommended.