|The Arrosto Di Anatra Con Cavofiore Al Vino Rosso - or simply slow roasted duck leg with Sicillian red wine braised cauliflowers, puree and Fava beans, black olives and duck and thyme sauce.|
It is a restaurant named in honour of a special olive tree, dear to the heart of those who hail from Tuscany and Umbria. It is tucked away at one corner, the western one, on the second floor of the Strand Arcade, right smack in Sydney City Centre, the one joining Pitts Street Mall and George Street.
make it past their cafe and you then enter the inner sanctum.
Pappardelle pasta flavoured with beetroot and garnished with fresh goats cheese, dried black olives , red onions and Italian parsley exemplify the rustic charm and feel of the Pendolino. What caught my eye was their attempt using pork , veal and tomato ragu, served with a Gramigna pasta. The Trota, a fine name for a basic Russian inspired sandwich, places ice berg lettuce with smoked trout and zings up the final taste with a horseradish mayonnaise, perhaps an excellent lunch idea. For the brave and initiated, the truffled chicken liver and Portobello mushrooms I reckon can be a good choice, for it is a challenging matter to make and draw out the best in two very delicate ingredients. My recommendation for insalate or simply salads, would be the Ortaggi, a healthy and light mixture of ideas with pine nuts, ricotta, beetroot, pumpkin and Treviso radicchio, splashed with a Nebbiolo vinegar.
The cafe portion perhaps is great for breakfasts. One can reasonably expect choices in cheeses, breads and paninos, What makes Pendolino apart in my eyes is the tasting plate in oil and olive, the Da Assaggiare. This is a wholesome experience by itself, providing the guest with subtlety, contrast and quality as you soak the beautiful bread samples with each distinct and memorable choice of olive oil flavour. The other significant thing that makes me want to go back tot he Pendolino is the blood orange olive cake (the Torta agrumato di Sanguinella). And then there are the mains, carefully prepared, lovingly served, beautifully articulated and downed with an exquisite choice of wines and liquors.
Pendolino not only offers a cafe and restaurant, but perhaps more significantly also is a wine and olive oil providore. Beautifully named the Lolioteca, you can also access the products on line but perhaps nothing is as enjoyable as viewing the range up front - with choices like blood orange flavoured extra virgin oil and premium sweet Nebbiolo red wine vinegar, you are transported to another world. To me, the simple and most satisfying choice would be a small container of Australian grown olives (the Piccoline). The store underlines what Pendolino does best, provide an atmosphere and experience, with accented pronunciations that magically transport a guest back to another time, another place - and not in downtown Sydney, on the edge of a desert island.
Housed in a corner of an era of architecture gone by, huddled discreetly by climbing two flights of stairs or taking an antiquated lift, Pendolino first greets you with a cafe with a casual al fresco feel, and even if you find this section can be choked with tables and narrowness, you are soon ushered into a dining room from another century. Subdued candle lights provide a possible line of gems but once you look at the menu, the carefully named and made dishes overtake the attention of the diner above everything else. The owners of Pendolino also operate La Rosa upstairs in the same Strand Arcade. Please note that Pendolino restaurant is closed on Sundays and public holidays. The wine bar takes over from 5pm till late for six evenings a week.
There is nothing more gratifying than good friendship - and short of that, letting the juices of a craftily and lovingly coked duck flow on to the palate. With a deep marinade bite, I enjoyed the flow-on succulence of the meat and the crispiness of the well roasted skin. The sauce matched the inherent tone and taste of the red wine enhanced meat. I would have preferred alcohol to fully complement this remarkable dish, but we were at office lunch time and had restrictions in time, liberty and option. Maybe next time at a more easy pace.