Dining Out: Esposito, Carlton

by April@MyFoodTrail on November 4, 2009

in BYO Place, Carlton, Dining Out, Italian

Esposito
162 Elgin Street, Carlton VIC 3053
(03) 9347 9838

Cuisine: Italian / Seafood
BYO: Yes, $10 a bottle
Prices: Entrées $19-$26, mains $35-$42, desserts $16-$21
Parking: Street parking, nearby paid car parks

Outside Esposito

It had been quite a while since hubby and I had caught up with Mr M & Mrs S so we arranged dinner one night at Esposito as it was sort of a middle meeting point. Esposito is located on the corner of Elgin & Rathdowne Street. Parking was a real bugger, with most spots within walking distance of the restaurant either taken or a permit zone! I did numerous circles in the car before finally finding one. There are a few paid car parks if you struggle to find street parking like me.

Mrs S recently found out I have a food blog but we have not dined with her & Mr M since I started blogging. I find the first time I dine with someone post-starting my food blog a bit awkward! You have to explain that you will be taking a photo of all the food and they are not allowed to start eating until I have taken my photos. Some people might mind, others don’t, but it is hard to tell the first time! I guess you can judge people’s reaction to your avid photography by whether or not you get invited out for dinner again! 🙂 I think Mr M & Mrs S didn’t mind (well, at least I hope not!).

The menu is quite limited with 7 entrées and 6 mains. There is a special loaves & fishes menu where on Monday to Friday for lunch and dinner, for $35 you get 2 courses and a glass of wine with tea or coffee. It is an excellent deal but I suspect the servings might be smaller and you do not get as much choice. There was no differentiation between entrées and mains in the loaves and fishes menu. The four of us decided to stick with the ala carte menu.

We all got an amuse bouche of a small bowl of mixed herbs to start off with.

Amuse bouche – mized herbs

We ordered two entrées to share between the four of us, the first being the Canadian scallops. It was 3 beautifully seared scallops on top of what tasted like a mash potato and one small duck tortellone. We split the tortellone into 4 so we could all try it, but the quartered piece ended up being so small, meaning none of us really got to taste it properly anyway!

Canadian scallops with duck tortellone; syrup of raspberry vinegar & spice $21

The second entrée was the mud crab, avocado and apple salad. The waitress had spinach essence in a small test tube, which she poured onto the salad once it was at our table. The apple was grated so thinly, it didn’t taste like apple but gave the salad a delightful crunch. It was difficult to taste much of the mud crab, but I enjoyed the fresh flavours of the salad. It also came with a small bowl of crispy bread.

Mud crab, avocado & green apple salad; young spinach & spinach essence $26

Crispy bread that came with the salad

Mr M ordered the grilled John Dory fillets for his main which came mixed in a pile of broccolini and beetroot shreds. Mr M enjoyed his dish, but thought hubby’s fish was better. We had a good laugh at the “skid marks” when the dish first arrived!

Grilled John Dory fillets, salad of Moreton Bay bugs, broccolini, globe artichokes & baby beetroots $39

Mrs S ordered the suckling pig. It was more like a slow roasted pork belly rather than the crispy skinned suckling pig you find at Chinese restaurants, which was what I was expecting. Mrs S proclaimed this as the best pork she has ever had! The pork had a wonderful flavour and melt in the mouth texture like all good pork should. The petite apple was very cute!

Suckling pig; petite apple & cabbage salad & poached apple reduction $38

Hubby ordered the whole King George whiting. It came as a whole fish, open with the centre bone removed and stuffed with some steamed greens. The flesh of the fish was so delicate and sweet, cooked perfectly, but there was hardly any of it!

Whole King George Whiting $42

My main was the herb crusted salmon. I wouldn’t exactly call it herb crusted as the herbs were only just put on top of the fish. I liked how they cut it into a cylinder shape but I found the salmon underdone as it was still raw in the middle. The crayfish pieces on the side were so tender, almost like it was sashimi. When I asked the waiter whether the crayfish was supposed to be like sashimi, he mentioned that the chef tended to undercook the seafood. I didn’t mind because it tasted so good slightly undercooked.

Herb crusted atlantic salmon, fricassee of fresh peas, crayfish & lardons $38

Inside the salmon

We also got a side of roasted potatoes to share. The potatoes were nothing out of the ordinary and erring on the side of being overcooked.

Roasted potatoes with rosemary & garlic $9

Overall: The seafood was very fresh and of high quality, but prices were on the expensive side and the serves were small. The service was excellent and attentive even though the restaurant was fully booked.

Would I return? For the prices, I wasn’t blown away by the food though if I were to return, I would try the loaves and fishes menu.

Over & Out, Rilsta xx

Esposito at Toofey's on Urbanspoon

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jetsetting Joyce (MEL: HOT OR NOT) November 5, 2009 at 2:31 pm

Thanks for the tip about the loaves and fishes menu. The food does look beautifully presented so I'd like to try Esposito, but it is a pricey for a non-special-occasion meal.

Jetsetting Joyce

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SK November 5, 2009 at 5:05 pm

Everything looks so good, especially the scallops!

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spatulaspoonandsaturday November 5, 2009 at 10:10 pm

looks gorgeous! but rather pricey. i'll have to think twice about its priciness.

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Iron Chef Shellie November 5, 2009 at 10:30 pm

some interesting looking food there! crispy bread looks like hollowed out toast.. and that "herb crusted" salmon.. yes I agree with you there. Shame about it being underdone.

Gorgeous photos though. Parking in Carlton is always such a biatch.

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Conor @ HoldtheBeef November 6, 2009 at 1:54 am

The petite apple is so cute it looks fake, like one of those wax fruits! Also, the whiting has this expression likes he's all "yeah I know my spine's been removed and replaced with greens, what's it to ya?" hehe

I agree it seems overpriced, but they are interesting dishes. Great photography 🙂

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Maria@TheGourmetChallenge November 6, 2009 at 3:15 pm

I had the exact same feeling after eating here. Prices too high, servings too small. I dont mind paying good money for food, but I just didnt feel that anything was overly "great". I wouldnt discount them though, I would like to try something different which would be great. The lunch special is a goody though, and the serving sizes are smaller than the al la carte. Have you tried the Bistro Vue lunch special? same sort of thing 2 course and a glass of wine for $35. You have to book well in advance though….but its bloody worth it! DROOL!

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Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella November 6, 2009 at 5:15 pm

The servings do look a little on the small side. What a shame as it sounds quite nice otherwise and the pork dish does look delectable (and who doesn't like miniature things 😛 )!

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Rilsta November 6, 2009 at 11:14 pm

Hi Joyce: The loaves & fishes menu contains items from the normal menu, so it would be a good way to try some of the dishes without the expense. It's good value, though I haven't seen the size of the dishes.

Hi SK: The plating was pretty interesting!

Hi Kat: It is on the pricey side unfortunately, though the loaves & fishes menu is much better value.

Hi Shellie: Thanks! Yes, agreed that parking around Carlton is a pain!

Hi Conor: Thanks! It was pretty dark in the restaurant but hey, what's new?! 🙂 The whiting almost has an evil expression!

Hi Maria: I'm like you – I don't mind paying high prices every once in a while but the food has to be pretty darn good! Thanks for the tip about Bistro Vue – will have to try it some time!

Hi Lorraine: Yeah, they were small. The pork was probably the best dish!

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