Photography by: Miss SL
On a cold, wet July evening we gratefully entered the warm embrace of Bistro Bakini on St Kilda Road. With an appealing ambience of mood lighting, clean lines and a chilled out play list, Bistro Bakini occupies a long space looking right down to an open kitchen. Despite being busy for a Wednesday night, our host and manager, Stavros, was attentive and welcoming. After starting with a refreshing Melon Vodka shot, we decided to put ourselves in the chef’s hands and settled in for a feast.
Croquette di Baccala, Olive Ascolane and Avoca Hills Merlot
“Let’s just back up a second to the melon vodka shot. Sweet, smooth and refreshing, this shot was the perfect way to wet the appetite. Our second drink for the night – the Avoca Hills Merlot was from Victoria and was smooth, thick and rich with spicy tones. It was a heady combination that was nicely matched with the crispy, deep-fried entrees of the evening. The croquettes were crispy on the outside and a beautiful balance of creamy potato and cod. The aioli was mildly tangy with the capers adding a nice hint of saltiness. The Olive Ascolane was unusual and more complex than I was expecting. Inside the deep-fried olives were a salted beef mince that stimulated the hunger glands and got us salivating in preparation for what was next.”
“The Croquette di Baccala blended a delightfully crisp shell with a smooth and delicious filling of eggs, flour and well-soaked salted cod featuring flavours of garlic and pepper. The aioli was creamy with the capers introducing a little bite. The Olive Ascolane was bite sized, unexpected and truly decadent. The chef had invested to create these morsels and they were gone in a moment! Behind crispy shells lay pitted olives stuffed with a seasoned mince of beef, lemon zest, nutmeg and mint.”
Capesante alla Griglia and Cotechino alla Griglia
“I have to be honest and say that I was a bit disappointed with the Capasante alla Griglia. The gorgeous Harvey Bay scallops were lost in the crunchy, buttery flavours of the breadcrumbs and creamy sauce. The Cotechino alla Griglia, on the other hand was delicious. The chorizo-like sausage, was rich and the lentils accompanying it were lightly dressed in lemon. The house-made pesto sauce had a hint of pepper in it that brought out a lovely mild hint of spices.”
“The Capasante alla Griglia brought together juicy, tender scallops with a creamy and cheesy sauce (which was tasty but overwhelmed the caramelized onions a little). The Cotechino alla Griglia of house-made Cotechino sausage delivered a blend of rich pork, fatback and pork rind with a pleasantly subdued saltiness. Braised lentils, made with a rich stock and perhaps bacon and thyme, was served with a flavoursome salsa verde featuring notes of garlic, parsley, basil and mint.”
Ribollita and Gnocchi Con Anatra Ragu
“The duck gnocci was incredibly aromatic when it came out – rich smells of freshly shaved Parmesan, stewed duck, and the rich ragu-like sauce was mouth-watering. The gnocci was melt-in-your-mouth delicious; it was incredibly fluffy and soft. The duck was slow cooked and just broke away when pulled by the fork.
The ribollita – a dish similar to a minestrone soup – was light and warming to the soul. The barley was a beautiful way to naturally sweeten the dish.”
“This seasonal Tuscan-style minestrone was full of fresh, wholesome vegetables. Served with extra virgin olive oil and croutons the minestrone was refreshing in contrast to our earlier rich dishes, a hearty and healthy mix of leek, carrots, celery, potatoes and tender kidney beans. The Gnocchi Con Anatra Ragu of melting, homemade potato gnocchi was served with a rich duck ragu, aromatic vegetables and melting Parmesan. I tasted flavours of sage, nutmeg and dry white wine.”
Guancia Di Manzo
“Who could ever say no braised ox cheek? The meat was gorgeously caramalised and fatty resulting in an oh-so-soft dish that easily came apart at the touch. The sauce was very sweet thanks to the barley risotto that accompanied it. ”
“The incredibly tender slow braised ox cheeks, while quite fatty, were falling apart and perfectly tender. The barley risotto in a tasty cooking jus was complementary and added welcomed structure.”
Bomboloni Con Nutella
“Finally, for dessert we shared a the Bombolini Con Nutella which immediately proved an excellent option. These house-made doughuts were freshly deep fried and dusted in cinnamon. They were beautifully light and just wonderfully matched with the Nutella sauce. Yum!”
“These rich, buttery and golden brown doughnut balls were served fresh and hot with a soft, fluffy, perfectly puffed dough. Coupled with a runny Nutella sauce, this desert brilliantly capped a great meal!”
Overall, Bistro Bakini is a beautiful Winter option for date night. With a relaxed playlist, playful staff and a fancy spin on homely food, you can’t go wrong. The environment is warm, relaxed and casual – it doesn’t try too hard to be something that it’s not and the food – especially the meats and pastas – are a great option to get you warmed up.
A great option on St Kilda Road, Bistro Bikini is open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week. The Modern Connoisseur dined as a guest of Bistro Bakini. All opinions and views are true and honest to the contributor’s experience.