South Melbourne is a neigbourhood in which I’m always excited to spend time. Even the ride through Albert Park to get there is a pleasure. But the market, oh the Market – how I love thee. Fresh produce, delectable providores, moreish market food (dim sims and donuts, oh my!) and to top it off, an abundance of fantastic local eateries. South Melbourne is certainly not short of cafes, a personal favourite St Ali. Other classics include Cottle on Coventary and Cafe Sweethearts. There is always a food adventure to be had in South Melbourne – from pop-up store Madame Truffles (when in season), to spending hours trawling the isles of Chefs Hat – I believe South Melbourne is part of the blue-print of Melbourne’s food identity.
So, Panette – if you don’t know it, you probably know it without knowing you know it. It’s the cafe on the corner of Cecil and Coventry Streets (opposite the south east corner of the Market) with the big red letters on top of it’s door and bright umbrella’s along the sidewalk. Panette has always stood out in South Melbourne for it’s Italian focus and excellent eggs (apparently the eggs benedict here is a must).
I was faced with a dilemma – I was recommended to try their bolognese, but the menu stipulates gnocci, not spaghetti to accompany their ‘home-made gnocci Bologna ragu’. I made an executive decision, based on the response from a call out during a similar situation at Trunk, not to deviate from the menu – after all, I have to be true to restaurant menus, and to other peoples’ dining experiences.
When the bowl arrived to the table, it looked pictrure perfect and smelt incredible. The sauce appeared thick and at-one, something I’ve missed seeing around town. The deep colour says a lot about the cooking time here too.
The bolognese, it was delicious. The mince was very fine, but the sauce around it was thick – it just worked together beautifully. Tender, juicy and incredible depth. With each mouthful I detected new layers of flavour – the red wine was obvious but incorporated well. The meat was seasoned and a combination of beef and pork was used. The subtlety of the oregano and the balanced tomato flavour really lifted this dish.
The letdown was the gnocci, unfortunately. I like it to be little pillows of fluffy potato that just melt in your mouth with the texture of velvet. Panette’s gnocci melted before entering my mouth as it was too soft and lost its shape when poked by a fork. This did not happen with all pieces of gnocci, predominately it was the smaller ones. Those that did keep their form were pleasing, but were notably under seasoned. Ultimately, there was inconsistency.
There is no doubt that the hero was the bolognese here, not its vehicle.
Price: e $16.90 m $19.90