Looking for a romantic, dimly-lit spot for a special rendevous? Valentine's Day is coming up, so you if you are romantically inclined, you may want to start thinking about it...
This is my second visit to Fico Ristorante in Balmain. During my first visit, the restaurant was full and we were seated in a dark corridor. This time, the restaurant was empty and we were seated in the dark front section. The lack of patrons may be because it was just after Christmas, and maybe because most people were seated at the outside tables (it was a warm night).
The restaurant has a lovely feel about it, with tablecloths and good crockery and glassware. Our waiter was friendly and seemed to know the menu fairly well.
Speaking of which, the menu appears to have changed since last time, with fewer choices and a less 'Italian' bent.
The bread is was lovely (soft, chewy with crisp crust) and served with olive oil and salt.
Here are our starters:
Scallops wrapped in ocean trout with an eggplant caviar ($20) - the nicely cooked scallops were a good size and they paired well with the almost pickled texture of the eggplant.
The fresh beef carpaccio ($20) came with summer black truffles and baby herbs - I loved the flavour of the black truffle on the carpaccio, and again, the serve was substantial. As you can see from the photos, the plates were decoratively smeared with streaks of balsamic vinegar...
Here are the mains:
I had the homemade Gnocchetti ($27) with scampi and vanilla beans. Unusual combination and unusual (though not unpleasant) flavour. It was strange to taste vanilla in a savoury dish, and it was quite rich. The gnocchetti were lovely and small, and very soft and pillowy.
The Calamaretti ($28) are filled with spinach (and something else I forget) and grilled. Tender little calamari were tasty and artistic(?) squiggles of fish roe, broad beans and sauce adorned the plate.
Finally, here are the desserts:
Tiramisu ($15) tasted better than it looked, with very creamy mascarpone atop sponge and coffee liqueur.
Sicilian cannoli ($14) was alright, though I thought it was like the cannoli you can get in a cafe (for $3). Both plates this time were grafitti-ed with chocolate, with the cannoli sitting on a wide chocolate skid mark.
So, for a pleasant dinner (inside or outside), I'd definitely consider Fico Ristorante. The food came out at a reasonable pace, and the service was good. Come to think of it, they may have even brightened the lights after we sat down, so, in all, it was a good night.
Fico Ristorante is at 242 Darling St, Balmain, NSW Ph: 02 9818 3868. Open for dinner Mon-Sun.