Dining Out: Svago, Kew

by April@MyFoodTrail on January 31, 2010

in Dining Out, Italian, Kew

285 High Street, Kew VIC
(03) 9855 0505

Cuisine: Italian
Prices: Stuzzichini (bite sized appetisers) $9-$18, Piatti (entrées) $17-$26
Parking: Along High Street

Svago is located on High Street, Kew, nestled amongst the many restaurants near Kew junction. It is a small restaurant so it is advisable to make an advance booking. We opted for an early dinner on a Friday night and at 6.30pm, there was only one other table, but by the time we left, the restaurant was almost full.

Inside Svago

Svago means to relax and let go. The website mentions the philosophy of the ‘ritual of dining’, rather than just eating to fill your stomach. This is certainly the case at Svago, with an emphasis on sharing dishes rather than one entrée and a main per person. The Chinese culture also embraces the shared dishes concept which is what I was brought up on, so that’s why I think I like a variety of tastes in my meal.

Probably attributed to the fact that we were almost the only people there, the service was extremely attentive, with the waiter happy to make suggestions on both food and wine. The menu consists of stuzzichini, which are bite sized appetisers and piatti, which are entrée sized dishes. The waiter suggested we get 4 appetisers and 2 entrées but we did it the other way round and got 2 appetisers and 4 mains.

The two entrées came out at pretty much the same time, but we started on the lamb skewers. I tend to avoid lamb at home because of the stinky smell it can sometimes have and the way the fat congeals so quickly leaving an awful film over the meat. I will occasionally eat it at restaurants, normally if it’s in a braise or spring lamb cutlets, but hubby loves lamb so he wanted to order this dish. I wasn’t expecting much and boy, was I surprised! The lamb was so, so tender and flavoursome. If all lamb tasted like this, I would eat it more often!

Spiedini d’agnello, zucchini saltate / chargrilled skewers of baby lamb with zucchini $15

The other entrée was the croquettes. I’m glad we ate the lamb first, because even though the lamb was better than good, the croquettes were awesome and would have made the lamb taste ordinary! The croquettes were small, about the thickness of my thumb and the length of my little finger, but they were so tasty. The menu said they were to be served with a rosemary salsa, but they actually came with a delectable garlic flavoured mayonnaise which was like icing on the croquette cake! I was totally tempted to order another one of these, but in the spirit of trying as many different things as possible, I refrained.

Crocchette di patate, baccala e anguilla affumicata con salsa al rosmarino / potato, codfish & smoked eel croquettes with rosemary salsa $14

I have come to truly appreciate a small but flavoursome piece of steak. Quality is so important and I hang my head in shame at having bought my steak at the supermarket in the past! Now I know better and I have learnt the wonders of aged Black Angus beef. This steak, when cooked well, is one of the tenderest and succulent pieces of meat you will eat… well, besides wagyu! Svago certainly knows how to cook their steak. It was tender, juicy and flavoursome without the need for any sauce. The menu said it was supposed to come with a rocket and grana salad, but as you can see, someone must have forgotten it!

Controfilleto di manzo a frollatura proluntgata, grigliato con patate arrosto e insalata rucola & grana / dry aged Black Angus from Romsey Range scotch fillet chargrilled with roast kipfler potatoes, rocket & grana salad $26

Hubby still has his pork belly obsession so ordering this dish didn’t need a second thought! The crackling was crisp rather than hard and crunchy, which meant I could eat it with my braces! The pork itself had a melt in the mouth texture, but was full of fat and on the oily side. I really enjoyed the scallops and the cauliflower puree though.

Pancetta di —— con capesante e cavolfiori / roast pork belly with scallops & cauliflower puree $24

The gnocchi was not at all what I was expecting – I have never seen it served like this before. When the menu said baby gnocchi, I was expecting extra small gnocchi! The texture was almost like a mochi but without the chewiness. The filling of carrot and tarragon was also unusual but very tasty. The butter sauce was to die for and the waiter brought around some bread at the right time. We used the bread to mop up every drip of butter from the plate!

Gnocchetti di patate e carote con salsa al taragone / baby potato gnocchi filled with carrots & tarragon served with sage butter sauce $17

The last dish was actually ordered after we had finished everything else. We weren’t necessarily hungry, but could do with one more dish. We were tossing up between the calamari and the tuna and eventually chose the tuna. It was the right choice! The tuna was perfectly seared to leave it still raw in the middle, just the way I like it and how it should be served. The eggplant caponata was a well matched accompaniment to the tuna, delightfully soft. It was a great end to the meal.

Tonno alla griglia con caponata di melanzane / chargrilled tuna with eggplant caponata $24

Inside the perfectly cooked tuna

Overall: The food here is truly magnificent. Hubby and I enjoyed it immensely and the service was first class. If they keep up the standard of food, it won’t be long until they get their first Age Good Food Guide Chef’s hat. The serves are small so the dinner ends up on the expensive side, but the food is meant to be eaten slowly and savoured, much like our experience at Nobu. I think I prefer this kind of tapas style dinner where the dishes are small, so you get to try more things. All the dishes we ordered were above average and hubby even went so far as to say it is has been our best meal since I have started this food blog!

It was hard to pick a favourite dish, but the croquettes just beat the Black Angus steak. The least favourite for me was the actual pork belly – I loved the scallops and cauliflower puree and for hubby it was the gnocchetti, but this is by no means a reflection of those dishes. They were better than at least half the meals we’ve eaten since the start of this blog!

Would I return? Yes, definitely. We are thinking about the $90 Valentine’s Day degustation they are running!

Over & Out, Rilsta xx

Svago on Urbanspoon

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

mademoiselle délicieuse January 31, 2010 at 9:29 pm

I totally agree that the baby gnocchi look like pan-fried mochi!


Iron Chef Shellie January 31, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Looks fantastic! Even if the baby gnocchi were not so baby!
Those croquettes look delicious!

p.s. check your "Nobu [link]";)


Agnes January 31, 2010 at 10:31 pm

MHHMMMMMMM….. great looking and sounding meal. Those croquettes sound particularly fantastic!


Vee - A Melbourne Munchkin. February 1, 2010 at 8:03 am

Ooh high praise indeed. Good to know that there are fantastic options other than the slightly tired ones in the CBD! That tuna! Mmm!


OohLookBel February 1, 2010 at 10:10 am

Looks like great modern interpretation of Italian food. That you gave it such a good wrap is enough reason to visit, I think!


imasugarjunkie February 1, 2010 at 11:50 am

ohh i am SO hungry looking at that right now. the food looks divine!


Hannah February 1, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Oooh, that tuna is done perfectly!! Well done to the restaurant – I've so often come across overcooked tuna, which always makes for a sad day 😛


Esz February 1, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Boy does that look good! Yum. I would just love those croquettes – if done well they are magnificent with the different textures. Mmmmm.


Conor @ HoldtheBeef February 2, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Oh wowsers, such high praise! Well done for resisting the urge to order extra croquettes, I'm glad you did so I got to see more of the other delicious dishes 🙂

I wonder what their dessert is like? If you go back for Valentines then surely you will get a chance to try some sort of oozy chocolate deliciousness or something!


Maria@TheGourmetChallenge February 3, 2010 at 1:57 pm

awwwwww, everything looks so drool worthy. It sounds like one of those meals which sticks in your brain and ruins croquettes for you anywhere else!


Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella February 3, 2010 at 2:11 pm

The food looks absolutely delectable! The baby gnocchi is not what I was expecting to see though. How unusual!


Rilsta February 5, 2010 at 10:38 am

Hi mademoiselle délicieuse: The texture of it was like mochi too!

Hi Shellie: LOL! Thanks for the pick up – I amended it! Isn't funny we both picked up errors one after another?! 🙂

Hi Agnes: I'm drooling just thinking about it now! 🙂

Hi Vee: I tend to avoid the city because of parking & there are a lot of good restaurants located outside the city!

Hi Belle: Yeah, it's not traditional Italian, but it's really good!

Hi imasugarjunkie: I'm hungry too now! 🙂

Hi Hannah: I'm scared of overcooked tuna too – it's just so wrong!

Hi Esz: These croquettes were definitely done well and not at all dense.

Hi Conor: Hehe, it was hard to resist the croquettes, especially since they were so small! I just wanted more! They have quite a few desserts but I wanted the tastes of the savoury to linger longer!

Hi Maria: I thought I had good croquette before but this is the best!

Hi Lorraine: I know! I was surprised at the baby gnocchi too!


Anonymous May 31, 2010 at 12:07 am

Food good, but very expensive when you take into account the very small serves. They were slow bringing the first serving of food and then pushed you to ensure you were out for the second serving. Not worth the cost.


April @ My Food Trail May 31, 2010 at 9:55 am

Hi Anonymous: We went early so I can't comment on being rushed. I guess all dining out is about whether the diner thinks the food is worth the cost. Yes, the food is on the expensive side and serves are small, but I found the food really good and worth trying at least once!


toddler meals August 31, 2010 at 5:21 pm

gnocchi!….this italian food is very yummy and i love it a lot.


April @ My Food Trail September 7, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Hi toddler meals: The food was very yuumy!


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