Lately we went off to Sittella in the Swan Valley. We ordered from the mid week special lunch menu – for $40 a head, a choice of four mains, two desserts, bread, a glass of wine and coffee, and came away mightily impressed by the quality.
This winery restaurant is in a beautiful location, across a small creek, and situated on a slope looking back over the vineyards. Seated inside, or outside on a covered veranda cooled by fans and misting sprays, you get great rural views.
We were greeted at the door by a charming and friendly waiter and shown to our table – we requested inside as it was a tad hot for us to be sitting on the veranda, despite the cooling spray and fans. Water was delivered along with our menus.
All of the wines served are, reasonably enough, from Sittella, and while we looked over the food offerings we ordered a glass of their non vintage blanc de blanc – a crisp sparkling made from chardonnay grapes, with a lot of lemon and apple notes on the nose, and crunchy green apple flavours on the palate – and a glass of 2014 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – intense tropical fruit aromas, with good acid and refined lemon and gooseberry flavours.
The menu included oysters, gazpacho, rabbit risotto and house smoked chicken among the starters, with duck leg confit, roasted rack of lamb, slow cooked pork belly, porterhouse and vegetable tart among the mains. Many of these sounded tempting, but we were drawn to the mid week special. We could choose from four mains – Kashmiri lamb rump; smoked cod; caramelized pork cheek; and Mediterranean vegetable moussaka – we went for the first two; there were two desserts, so we chose one of each.
A basket of bread quickly came out – warm rolls with butter – to snack on while we waited for our meals.
The lamb rump, a good sized piece, was succulent and meltingly tender, falling apart with just a prod of the fork. It came with a well cooked rice pilaf flavoured with cinnamon, and a salsa of cucumber and mint. The marinade was gently piquant, with characteristic aromas of North Indian spices – cardamom, ginger, coriander, pepper- wafting from the plate. It was an excellent, tasty, generously sized, well presented dish with beautifully balanced spice and flavour.
Smoked cod was piled high on a bed of creamy mash, topped by a softly poached egg, which when cut oozed down over the fish. The cod was moist, juicy, and with a zesty saltiness. Intermingled vegetables, baby corn, snow peas, beans, were fresh and snappy. The flavour combination was excellent; it was another well presented dish which demonstrated high level kitchen skills, we thought.
Having finished our wines, we chose a couple more to go with our mains – a glass of 2013 Petit Verdot and 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Cabernet, from Margaret River, has plum and blackberry aromas, with well integrated oak, smooth tannins, and exhibiting chocolate, tobacco and minty notes on the palate. The Petit Verdot from the Swan Valley has the characteristic lifted violet aromas expected of this variety, with berry notes, moving to a tight, tannic palate, promising a bright cellaring future, but drinking very well at present.
Asking for a break before the desserts we sat back and sipped on our wine; when the desserts did arrive they shone on the plate.
The caramel basket was filled with marinated strawberries, bursting with sweet, juiciness, accompanied by ice cream flavoured with Cointreau and drizzled with passionfruit. It was a splendid dish, full of fresh, vibrant flavour combinations and simply delectable.
The second dessert was a yoghurt-based pannacotta, topped with granola and stewed rhubarb, and served with a white chocolate parfait and a friand soaked in syrup. The pannacotta was creamy, eggy and sweet, with a hint of piquancy from the yoghurt; the parfait beautifully textured, and the friand moist and delicious.
We were extremely impressed with the quality of the food at Sittella. The value represented by the special menu is excellent. The wines we tried were very good indeed; service was professional and friendly. The location and ambience is great.
My only grouch – and it has nothing to do with the restaurant – were the two ill mannered brats on the next table. While they flicked food around their plates, dropped cutlery and table numbers on the floor, ran around the place as if it was a playground, flung themselves across their chairs, their mother and grandmother (we presume) made perfunctory efforts to control them; I may be a grumpy old man but I tire of the lack of respect that people such as they show to others by allowing their children to do as they wish without exercising any discipline or control. Where is Christos Tsiolakis when you need him?