The blogosphere, among other things, has given me the impression that Mezzo Bar + Grill (formerly Oyster) in the CBD gets mixed reviews. However, when my dashing partner decided to take me there for some wining and dining, I was quite happy to leave preconceptions at the door – amply assisted by the imbibing of a Negroni at the bar. Being alone whilst drinking in quite the restrained manner (for me, you understand, quite the rarity) gave me the opportunity to people watch and observe the staff. They were warm and attentive and greeted guests immediately upon entering. I felt that this was a good sign and it was now up to the food to impress further.
To start, oysters. In typical gourmand form, I chose a half dozen of the mezzo caldo oysters and two Bloody Mary oyster shooters. The mezzo caldo was a more elegant take on Oysters Kilpatrick. Someone is probably going to shoot me for that, but I don’t mean that with any negative connotations at all. I could easily have slugged down a whole dozen. Probably the same for the Bloody Mary shooters (pictured above at the beginning). Our waitress recommended a glass of bubbly Chandon to go with these.
Tris’ choice for entrée was easily the winner of our choices – the tuna carpaccio. It looked stunning and tasted divine. It left a lasting impression on me taste-wise and visually well after the meal was over and I only had a single mouthful – tomato sorbet and gorgeous vegetables below the tuna with a slight crunch offsetting the softer texture of the tuna. The only issue Tris had with the dish was the use of orange. He felt that the sweetness didn’t sit right with the dish because it wasn’t quite delicate enough. Despite this, I still had entrée envy.
For mains, with no hesitation I went with a special offered – rabbit loin. Tender, gamey and juicy. I was smugly satisfied with my choice. The lovely waitress recommended a glass of sangiovese which was just perfect with the dish. If I weren’t a complete wine ignoramus, I would have got the name, sigh. In any case, it’s inspired me to explore this wine style more so if you have any suggestions good examples, hit me up.
Tris chose the paella which is on the menu. Presentation-wise it looked gorgeous, but I feel I got the better main out of the two of us. It’s a bit of a personal dirty word, but I’m going to say his paella was more on the ‘deconstructed’ side. It was generously brimming with seafood. I say it’s deconstructed, Tris says it’s not paella proper. This wasn’t a concern as he thoroughly enjoyed it.
There was no way I was leaving without dessert. I had the tiramisu. The waiter cheekily joked that it’s something of a social experiment having the tiramisu – you are presented with the pan and left to serve yourself. I suspect many cut themselves dainty slices, but not I! I went for a quarter of what was in the pan. No one rushed out to stop me which is just as well or I would have got into a fist fight. It was delicious – not too rich or sweet.
The better half went for the more sober choice of Sicilian doughnuts. Thank goodness one of us has some good sense.
Alas, it was upon ordering coffee that we both came unstuck. I’m assuming, given the crockery is emblazoned with the name, that the house coffee is Vittoria. Whatever coffee Mezzo is using at present is genuinely awful. The bitterness just about killed my palate and wouldn’t bloody leave. I should have ordered tea. I mention this because restaurants should and can devote as much care to their coffee choice as they do to their other beverages. I’m not saying they should immediately rush out and get on the third wave coffee bandwagon, just choose something that won’t have your diners scrunching up their faces in horror.
Does Mezzo deserve its mixed reviews? Based on this visit, I’d have to say that aside from the coffee, I loved it. The service was flawless (though Tris suspects that as soon as they saw his camera, they got wind that we were dirty food bloggery types, the charm factor was turned up a notch. Incidentally, they were right…). It’s pretty expensive and this means I’d leave repeat visits for special occasions (yes, either at my cost or if a loved one was treating me) but I would revisit and definitely recommend. If you don’t want to do the three-course meal shebang, they do have happy hour for oysters and a Monday pasta night – both of which I’m keen to try out.