Things you've never dreamed of

August 21st, 2011 by Rose

Restaurant 16, Neutral Bay

I get asked this about a million times in the last four months: “How’s married life?”

I mean, I get it. It’s a nice way to start a conversation when you haven’t seen me since I got married. Nothing’s changed due to the fact that the SO and I have lived together for about four years before we got married, but like, if they’re asking me what married life is like they’re expecting something a bit more interesting than “bugger all’s changed”, right?

“Fine, except we’re way overdue for an affair.”

“Fine, but we can only have sex in the missionary position with the lights off now.”

“Fine, I really like washing his socks.”

I’m not sure how to make this train of thought pull nicely into Station Segue Into Food Review so I’m not even going to try.

On Friday, The SO and I had dinner with Daniel and Chika, who you may remember as the people who introduced us to Bodega. Thank god for Daniel and Chika. I’m a pretty typical Sydneysider in that I don’t often venture out of my suburb, so I don’t have much of an idea of what the food scene is like north of the bridge. Restaurant 16 is owned by Daniel and Chika’s friends – the chef worked at Buon Ricordo for years before parting ways to do his own thing. The chef is also Japanese, and the food has all the punchy Italian flavours put together in a more subtle way, if that makes sense. It probably doesn’t but I just had a glass of wine so whatever. You can also have sake/plum wine with your meal! Awesome, y/y? The restaurant itself is a cosy little place perfect for a first date – the noise level doesn’t get higher than “comfortable” and service is super friendly.

Seeing that Daniel and Chika knew the owners and have been there a few times, they ordered dishes they’ve tried in the past that aren’t on the specials board. It pays to have friends with connections.

Complimentary bruschetta. How do you pronounce these things? Brus-ketta? Brushetta?

As far as I can tell (Daniel and Chika spoke Japanese to the owners), we got to be guinea pigs and try out this special entree that’s not on their current menu or specials. The dish is sardines coated in herbed crunchy breadcrumbs with a touch of orange zest. I love sardines, and this dish was absolutely stellar. The crunchy breadcrumbs complements the creamy sardines perfectly. The SO can’t eat anything too fishy so he gave me half of his portion. I love being married.

Calzone filled with three cheeses and salami, topped with fresh tomato and basil sauce. The calzone pastry is a bit more flaky than what I expected but not in a bad way.

Oh my god, my heart just stopped when I saw this photo again. Linguine with sea urchin, garlic, tomato and bottarga. Wikipedia tells me bottarga is cured fish roe. Lesbianhamapedia tells me bottarga is fucking delicious.

Hands down my favourite dish of the night. Prawn and artichoke linguine topped with breadcrumbs. Just stop what you’re doing right now and rush to Restaurant 16 for this. You’ll probably kiss my feet for this recommendation. You’re welcome.

Impressed? You bloody well should be. Zuppa de pesce – fish stew with cod, mussels, octopus, scampi and calamari. The scampi as sweet as your nervous first kiss with the first person you like-like in the back seat of your mum’s car.

After all the delicious seafood, this was a little bit of a letdown. Spatchcock stuffed with egg, mushrooms and bacon. It’s not that it wasn’t tasty, it was just a bit overcooked and a bit bland compared to everything else we had that night. If I had this as the first dish of the night I’d probably rate it a bit higher.

Dessert time! Daniel had the orange tart. I liked it, but it tasted a bit too eggy for me.

Chika and I had the panna cotta with berry sauce. This was a bit of an unfortunate one because it was grainy. It really is a shame because it tasted fantastic aside from the texture.

I totally ate the whole thing though. That’s how I roll.

Earlier that Friday, a friend at work asked me to let him know if Restaurant 16 is any good. I told him I’d score Restaurant 16 using the probability of getting in your date’s pants, on a scale of 0 – 100%. Don’t ever tell me I don’t give people what they need.

My score: 90%. take your date elsewhere for dessert, and bring an extra toothbrush.

Be prepared to shell out a bit of cash, though to be perfectly fair the four of us ordered a LOT of food, plus a bottle of wine, four glasses of Prosecco and a glass of dessert wine. Damage at the end of the night was $80 per person.

Restaurant 16
236 Military Rd, Neutral Bay
02 9909 0160 (bookings recommended – it was pretty quiet when we went there but the place is small)

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