Food, Inside Story

Restaurant Revolution Hits The Mark With Scarfo

Restaurant Revolution has hit our TV screens with a compelling foodie story and judges with foodie cred overdrive. Melbournites are hopeful we can finally win our first major TV foodie title (that has eluded us for so long). Restaurant Revolution is not just a cooking show but brings in many of the elements of running a restaurant, such as design and renovation of the structure, designing a menu, pitching for start up funds, branding and marketing, staff hiring, customer service, and of course cooking the food. And we are gearing up for the big Scarfo Restaurant launch on the series THIS MONDAY!

Scarfo Restaurant located next to Luna Park in Lower Esplanade St Kilda IS NOW OPEN; in fact is open Wednesday to Saturdays from 12-4 and 6-10pm, as well as for Sunday lunch. It's brave to pitch Scarfo in the St Kilda heartland with fine hatted restaurants at every turn - but the clown facing Scarfo from Luna Park need not laugh as this restaurant is up for the competition.

The aim of the show is to be the most profitable team over the 8 weeks. Teams may wish to go upmarket in their approach or more casual styles, as long as excellent quality and profitable margins are in place.

The World Loves Melbourne believes this is an opportunity for viewers to see how a restaurant is brought together in all its elements. Other cooking shows focus mainly on food, but Restaurant Revolution brings depth in a greater foodie experience.

We were invited to lunch at Scarfo Restaurant in St Kilda, the pink designed structure (clever use of shipping containers) featuring Melbourne contestants Nathan and Maz. In the first episode Nathan and Maz seemed a little defensive to us, but when we visited the restaurant they seemed different, focussed, passionate and exuding grace. Maz greeted us at the door (to our surprise) and connected with us during the meal, keen to please and for feedback. Nathan was working with his kitchen team but still also connected during the course of our lunch. It was clear Scarfo is pitching to an upmarket audience, with prices to reflect.

This is not "cheap and cheerful" but savvy and stylish.

The World Loves Melbourne wondered what was in store in terms of excellence. Was this a bunch of try-hards out of their depth? The show needs to be played out - but our initial impression was of a well run enjoyable, if not outstanding dining experience. Restaurant Revolution is not about amateur cooks finding their inner mojo. Nathan has already excelled as Head Chef at Tutte Benne in Southbank. He has the goods as a chef. Tutte Benne is well known in Melbourne for it's Italian style risottos, and we have imbibed there on previous occasions. It's no wonder Nathan brings to the Scarfo Menu some top notch risottos, such as the Moreton Bay Bug risotto, parsley pesto, spanner crab, as well as the Roast Duck ragu risotto, black truffle.

Scarfo is unapologetically upmarket. We were struck by the quality of the menu, perfect for Melbourne winter. The World Loves Melbourne often judges a menu by simply how many descriptions of dishes appeal. Sometimes it's only one or two, or even none at some restaurants. We are sick of "same old same old" with everyone ripping off everyone else. The Scarfo menu presented a plethora of compelling selections from which to choose. All were perfect for a Melbourne winter - not too light but decent portions.

Bread and oil commenced proceedings, innocent enough, but served by cheery well presented wait staff and featuring quality bread. Small Bites include Crispy fried quail, chilli, pickles, red cabbage, Romanesco broccoli, and the superbly presented Hay-smoked duck breast, thinly sliced, chilli crushed peanuts, black fig vincotto. The smoky flavours of the thinly sliced duck are on song, and the dish evoked an explosion of flavour in the mouth with chilli kick, crunch of peanuts, along with the extra crunch and sweetness of the black fig vincotto.

We enjoyed the Slow braised calamari, cooked two ways, tomato, garlic, bay leaf as a rewarding dish with spaghetti like calamari (to provide a delicate element).

When it comes to mains the menu appeals to broad tastes. A vegetarian option of Spaghetti chitarra, goats butter, Parmigiano Reggiano was an inventive vegetarian meal that we enjoyed immensely.

Rock flat head fillets, zucchini, Silician caponata, crostini are a hit with two large fillets draped across the crostini, with stunning deep green zucchini and the caponata underneath. Like Melbourne dress styles, this was about layers.

Tempted to choose a risotto, the appeal of Slow cooked Cape Grim Porterhouse 350g, Ms4, tarragon mustard took over as more than alluring. Cape Grim beef is some of the best in the world. Cooked to perfection with suitable pink and slight crust on the outside, this beef was stunning; perfect with Triple-cooked kipfler potatoes, marjoram, pecorino. 

Scarfo is BYO, with no liquor license as such. Also to note is that there is no booking; walk ins only. While we were there the restaurant was well patronised throughout. The World Loves Melbourne was wondering at the demographic; channel 7 viewers we guessed, fair enough.

Desserts are also compelling; no sense of dropping the standards at the last hurdle. A sense of theatre was displayed with Neapolitan wild strawberry parfait, hot chocolate, vanilla ice cream as rich warm chocolate was poured over the parfait in front of us.

Also of note was the Coconut panna cotta, crystalised mint, macerated blueberries, the texture of the panna cotta perfect and the interplay between coconut and berry flavours a cacophony of sweet synergy.

The World Loves Melbourne is keen to follow the progress of Scarfo Restaurant and Nathan and Maz as they journey with their new enterprise. We are also riveted by the foodie megawattage of Neil Perry, John Lethlean, Jessica Ho and Erez Gordon. If Scarfo is any indication, this will be one heck of a rollercoaster ride (like Luna Park next door)!




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