Haven’t been here for some time, was keen to go back as it has an eclectic wine list, we sat outside last time, but as winter is upon us, we made sure our booking was for the inside part of this smallish restaurant. Didn’t need to as the heaters and clear plastic blinds keep the alfresco part warm, though the interior does have a nicer ambiance at this time of year. Anyway I have wondered why it is called Cantina 663, the 663 is the easy bit as the restaurant is at 663 Beaufort Street (Duh). But Cantina, the setting didn’t invoke a Mexican style restaurant and was not serving shots of Tequila and no gun toting Gringos to be seen loitering outside. So off to wiki we go;
“In Spain today, the cantina refers to a bar located in a train station or any establishment located at or near a workplace where food and drinks are served,”
That fits the bill and I guess answers my question, could’ve just ask one of the waiters instead.
The wine, yes the wine, that was an easy selection as there was a G. D. Vajra Langhe Rosso 2008, (having visited the vineyard in 2010) on the list, which is a great work horse wine. Their Langhe Rosso is a blend of Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto D’alba grapes.
It is one of their entry level wines that’s not meant to be oohed and ahhed about, it’s to be drunk young and with food. It opened up with fresh acidity from the Barbera which settled down over the night to allow the more subtle fruits of the predominant but softer Nebbiolo to show, that underlying brightness (acidity) from the Barbera cuts through the fats and oils in food and balance both the food and wine beautifully and is given additional depth from both the Nebibiolo and Dolcetto (a grape I know even less about). A great wine that worked well with my food.
My first choice was the slow cooked beef cheek, but that was ordered by another, my second choice was the Gnocchi as this place is renowned for it, but alas that was also order by someone else, had to go with my third choice the house made pappardelle, local prawn, roasted chilli, lemon and capers. Turned out to be an inspired third choice, the prawns were only lightly cooked and just a bit crunchy, fresh and numerous, the chilli, lemon and capers added extra flavour and also a nutty texture topped of with a touch of oil, EVOO I presume and perfectly cooked pasta, just divine.
I wasn’t going to have a coffee but succumbed to the noise of freshly ground coffee in the background and ordered a short mac, an excellent finish to a beautiful meal.
From Anne and Liz.
The entrees were simply superb. We were both pleasantly surprised by the tin of pollastrini sardines with lemon and charred bread as it is not a dish we would usually be attracted too, however the sardines were scrumptious and a great texture when smeared across the crusty bread. The grilled cotechino sausage, braised cabbage and apple salad was a very well designed dish; the sausage was meaty and with just the right about of spiciness, perfectly complimented by the fruity relish.
Both the gnocchi and beef cheek were delicious mains, and the beef cheek was so tender it could be sliced like butter! The wine particularly complimented the beef because it cut through the very rich glutinous meat. The wine was initially acidic with a nice bite to it and then developed throughout the meal, so we noticed the much fruitier notes.
Coming to the end of the evening Anne was very envious of the lovely aromas wafting from the short mac, and intends to return for breaky to taste the renowned coffee soon.