It’s cold. This July in Sydney, the nights start earlier and the sun comes up later. The nights are colder too.
It’s nights like last weekend that V and I just want something local for dinner. Something hearty and familiar. This is perfect weather to visit old favourite, Il Baretto in Surry Hills.
It’s been awhile since I’ve been here. Probably two years? We come for an early dinner at 6:30 and get a table right away. Not sure if it’s less patronised these days but this would never have happened six years ago when I first started going here. Not having the customary couple of drinks at the Carrington Hotel across the road is a foreign experience.
It should be noted that as of a few days ago, the Carrington had opened its doors to its first weekend after a short renovation. It now boasts a tapas bar that deserves a future visit.
Regardless, tonight is about the familiar. V and I take our table, settle into their $5-by-the-glass house wines served in tumblers before looking at the menu. The Pappardelle with Duck Ragout is of course a no-brainer. It is creamier than I remember but the large chunks of duck and fresh pasta are still satisfying.
The other favourite would have easily been the Spaghetti a la Vongole but tonight, we try one of the specials: Homemade Passatelli with Prawns, Rocket & Tomato. I’ve never tried pasatelli and it’s a welcome surprise. We’re told it’s a pasta formed of breadcrumbs, nutmeg and egg. It’s a very unique texture combined with the prawn, rocket and light tomato sauce… More like a salad than a traditional pasta.
For entrees, we have the Deep Fried Baby Octopus, which is sadly much too soggy, and the Beef Carpaccio, which is tasty.
It would be interesting to hear what the impact of the Carrington Hotel’s renovation (and new Spanish restaurant) is on Il Baretto. It has always been an establishment of cheap-and-cheerful austerity but without the option of having patrons wait at the Carrington, I expect it would have to do something about it’s “no bookings” policy and lift it’s game.
An old favourite nonetheless that delivers on the hearty meal we were after.
The word? Yummy favourite. Very reasonably priced for the generous servings. Cheap grog and even cheaper corkage. There was always a big wait to get a table at prime dining hours but this may change with the Carrington’s renovation.
496 Bourke St
Surry Hills NSW 2010
Tue to Sat Noon – 3pm
Tue to Sat 6pm – 10pm