In light of COVID-19, we encourage diners to take precautions when going out. You can also support your favourite restaurants by getting takeaway and delivery.
DiVino Wine Bar & Restaurant opened on Central’s Wyndham Street in 2003, just in time to experience SARS. The current period of prolonged virus pain has been longer and more difficult, but Chef Michele Senigaglia is using his early nights to think of new ways to engage diners. If you consider yourself a wine connoisseur (or even if you don’t), take the challenge – guess the grape variety, country of origin and (for the extreme wine buffs) the winery to enter into a draw to win $1,000 in dining vouchers!
This menu was not made to test the ability of customers but to stimulate a more complete approach between food and wine, to stimulate and expand the dining experience.
– Chef Michele Senigaglia
Please take our thoughts on the paired wines with a grain of salt. There are certain wines we know perhaps a bit too well, but DiVino serves mostly Old World wines of which we are unfamiliar. If you, like us, are not experts in this area, do not presume your enjoyment of this meal will be diminished – take it all in good fun. The chef assures us this is not a rigorous exam, and if you get some of the wines right, you will be entered into the draw.
The four-course wine-paired degustation menu ($550/person with tea/coffee) is priced very reasonably and is available until March 31.
4 Courses, 4 Wines
BLANC D’AQUITAINE VEAL TARTARE
with crushed Piedmont hazelnut, bagna càuda and black truffle
Chef Senigaglia says:
For this dish, I used a French veal tartare, a more delicate meat if compared to the main. I wanted to pair it with a sparkling wine. Therefore anchovy and hazelnut did the trick.
The delicate flavour of the meat takes on the character and salinity from the bagna càuda, a Piedmont sauce based on anchovies and garlic. Hazelnuts were added to give a contrast, since, while being eaten, they release a sweetish aftertaste, which then contrasts with the hearty character of the black truffle.
We were served our wine before the veal tartare arrived, so we had time to discuss. It obviously had bubbles – the carbonation was light, as was the colour – so that narrowed things down, but we couldn’t agree on whether it was Prosecco or champagne. We eventually decided to go with one of each on our tasting cards.
When the dish arrived shortly after, it hit us with its beautiful presentation, complete with edible flowers and a sprinkling of hazelnuts. This was our first time trying veal tartare, and the portion size was generous. All the flavours in this dish are gentle – the bagna càuda sauce is mild and the veal is pleasantly subtle, with a slight sweetness. The hazelnuts add a crunchy texture, and while the flowers didn’t taste like much at all, they were really pretty.
We alternated between our bubbles and our meal, immensely enjoying the opportunity to focus solely on taste and texture combinations as an escape from the usual daily grind.
DELICATE 18-MONTH-OLD CARNAROLI RISOTTO
creamed with burrata from Andria and winter black truffle
Chef Senigaglia says:
For the risotto, I used aged Carnaroli rice, which, according to the producers, would allow for greater resistance in cooking while creating enough starch and [making the] proteins less soluble and finally increasing the absorption capacity of the seasonings.
The risotto is dipped in Prosecco Brut and cooked with a vegetable broth, creamed with butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano and embellished with burrata cream and black truffle.
The marriage is between the creaminess and sweetness of the risotto together with the intense, decisive and persistent smell, with musky and undergrowth notes of the winter truffle.
This rich, velvety risotto was again beautifully presented, adorned with a generous tower of shaved truffle – enough for each bite. However, the truffle itself was subtle, not at all pungent. The burrata cream added a buttery layer and even more richness to the already indulgent dish, which was probably not required.
Wine #2 was a little sweet (could it be a Riesling?), and we would probably not order it on its own, but it grew on us over the course of the risotto as it seemed to balance the dish well. This was a case of being more than the sum of its parts – both enjoying the dish more when combined with the wine and enjoying the wine more when paired with the dish.
AUSTRALIAN BLACK ANGUS “BLACK TYDE” TAGLIATA
served with wild rocket, Pecorino cream and black truffle petals
Chef Senigaglia says:
The Australian Black Tyde beef has an HPG designation, which stands for no “hormonal growth promotant”. For years, DiVino Group has been devoted to giving our customers sustainable and hormone-free products.
Grilled and rested, the beef is cut into slices and served with a light fondue of Pecorino Romano, a few leaves of wild rocket salad and petals of black truffle.
The result carries a contrast of flavours. The fondue is creamy but with a slight salinity, enough to accentuate the flavours of the meat and to give a balance between the bitterness of the rocket and the earthiness of the truffle.
Both this dish and its paired wine were our favourites of the meal. When eating meat, our philosophy is to eat less but eat better, and this beef certainly qualifies. The succulent beef released the aroma of the shaved truffle, and the gorgeous Pecorino cream added a sharp but creamy edge to each mouthful.
The red wine served was light and delicious – we are thinking a Pinot Noir – but it presented a dilemma. How can we get our hands on it again if we don’t know what it is? Herbert, who was looking after us, assured us that we can ask the staff for a glass of “wine #3” on the degustation menu until we find out the results on 8 March (there will be yet another wine-pairing menu in March).
filled with Norcia black truffle and mache salad
Chef Senigaglia says:
[For the] ending, I chose cheese since the truffles go very well with the creaminess and sweetness of the buffalo Camembert.
The Camembert’s edible rind makes it a plus, giving this cheese an extraordinary symphony of aromas and flavours. Cut in two, stuffed with thin truffle petals and seasoned with Maldon salt and freshly ground pepper, it is left to cure for at least 24 hours before being served.
I keep it at room temperature at the beginning of each meal to better enjoy its organoleptic qualities. It is accompanied with mache salad leaves, diced mandarin mustard, truffle petals and a beetroot sponge cake to give volume and character to the dish.
The buffalo Camembert is much milder than its traditional French counterpart, and at room temperature, it was deliciously creamy, with a subtle infusion of truffle. It was particularly divine when paired with the mandarin jam. The beetroot cake was light and airy, not too sweet, and we implored the chef to find a way to retain its red colouring as this hue would be visually stunning and a perfect match for the paired red wine.
The wine was sweeter than the previous course, with strong fruity notes, but it was not a dessert wine. We thought it might be a blend, but it was unfamiliar to our palates, so we are pretty sure we got this one completely wrong!
The experience of sitting down over an extended afternoon lunch/early dinner with fantastic food and drink, focusing on tasting the flavour combinations of the truffle dishes and wine, truly felt like being on holiday. Whether you are already an expert on grape varietals and winery techniques or just know what you like, this is a wonderful idea that’s been well executed. Chef Senigaglia is passionate about his dishes and ingredients, and it shows. The truffle-themed dishes were all delicious, but it is the pairings that are the real stars of the show.
A perfect dining-for-two outing, we recommend a minimum of 1.5 hours to really enjoy this experience. If you are able to adjust your schedule, make an afternoon of it and enjoy an early dinner (the last seating is at 4:30pm).
73 Wyndham Street, Central, 2167 8883, book online
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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