I seem to have a knack of picking memorable venues for Mother’s Day. Last year I organised the tribe to go to Enigma, and 12 months on I am still trying to solve the riddle of the missing lobster. There was also the pre blogging Mother’s Day where we went to C-Side restaurant which is part of the Greek Club at Brighton Le Sands. We were the only non Greek, non club members there. It felt like we had crashed a private party. The kids got up after lunch was served and gave demonstrations of Greek dancing and everyone was singing, clapping and having a great time. They were so accommodating to us, the food was great and we even got lovely goodie bags to take home. This year seems I kept my tradition of choosing a memorable venue yet again, but more about the Grotta Capri a little later.
This year’s Mother’s Day in itself was a strange one for me. Normally Mother’s Day is a tribal event which includes my in laws as well as my Mum and Dad. This year it was not to be so.
Some of you would know that my Mum and Dad have moved up to warmer climates in Queensland. This was the first Mother’s Day in a very long time where I didn’t spend it with my Mum. Actually it is the first time in a long time that they have not lived more than 10 minutes away from us. So my day was filled with me missing her, specially at lunch.
What I have not mentioned publically is that my Mother in law is very ill. She has been for a while now with that horrid C word. We are now at the stage where there is nothing else that can be done medically except to keep her as pain free and comfortable possible, all days are bad days and she is confined to bed.
This Mother’s Day I still wanted to go to lunch, it was something that got stuck in my head and it was something that I really wanted. I am still not sure if the desire to go to lunch was a grasp to keep some normality of years past in my life or if it was just shear selfishness.
So Mother’s Day was a bit of a whirl of a day. Started with a teeny sleep in and a champagne breakfast at our place where we had melon and prosciutto (two of my favourite things). Then it was get ready, rush out the door with Sally, I rung my mother on the way to my in-laws. Some time spent with my Mother-in-law before heading out to the Grotta Capri for lunch. Sally spent time being doted over while we were out.
I have wanted to eat at the Grotta Capri for ages, and I do mean ages, at least three decades. I grew up in the area and when I was still a kid the Grotta Capri was “the” place to eat in the area. It was a mixture of fine food and unique setting, designed to resemble the famous blue grotto on the isle of Capri. Where else in Sydney can you eat in a sea grotto?
I knew that the Grotta Capri was a little past her prime, but I still wanted to pay a visit and try it out. What I didn’t expect was to walk in to an empty restaurant at 12.30pm on Mother’s Day, one of the busiest days for restaurants during the year. Mac said he could see it written all over my face. That feeling you get when you walk in to an empty restaurant to eat and wonder what does everyone else know that I don’t? Apparently I was beaming that feeling like a lighthouse for all to see.
Look I’m at a wedding
After I got over the shock that the restaurant was empty I notice that it was actually set up for a wedding. All the chairs decked out with silk bows, draped white material everywhere and the garish wedding cake stand in front of the bridal table completed the whole look.
We were advised we had a choice to two tables, both right up front and centre near the front door. This didn’t really thrill me in a completely empty restaurant, would of rather been in one of the little grotto type alcoves, but I was still sort of in shock and just sat down. We chose the one with less white draped material surrounding us. Our lovely host for lunch advised us that there was a wedding last night, the photographer had flash issues and he was coming back after lunch today to take photos. Wedding decor mystery solved.
Given menus, the boys order a beer each and I order a long island tea. We are advised that they were wiped out of octopus last night so it isn’t on the menu and that there are only two serves of lamb shank left. This is where my confidence in the choice of venue for lunch goes downhill even more. What keeps me smiling is the setting I am in, underwater wedding theme, and the fact that the staff are really lovely
I had one massive craving for oysters, the retro kind of mornay and kilpatrick, and order a dozen for the three of us to share with some garlic bread as an appetiser. The garlic bread is the way it should be, large chunks of garlic and lots of buttery goodness, finger licking.
Garlic bread $4
Another group arrive and at this point our host deems it fit to put some music on. Sadly it seemed to be the wedding music from the night before, think Carpenters, Barbra Streisand, Dionne Warwick, Dan Hill (Sometimes when we touch). I keep an ear out for Islands in the Stream by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, but that was seems to not have made the wedding mix.
A dozen oysters, Kilpatrick and mornay $27
The oysters are interesting, mornay light but seemed to be only under the griller for five seconds. The kilpatrick are generous with the bacon and have a nice Worchester bite to them. What I find interesting is that there is not one piece of rouge shell in the oysters, I am also fascinated at how pearly white the inside of the oyster shells are. I turn one of the shells over and notice that they are extremely weathered on the outside. Do they re-use the shells? Do they buy the oysters out of the shell (jars or large containers) and then put them in the shells? Now saying that, there was nothing wrong with the oysters, they were actually quite fine.
For entree I decide to try the bomboletti di ricotta. Light and fluffy deep fried balls of zucchini, shallot and ricotta topped with a cheese sauce on a bed of mixed lettuce. I am happy and things are looking like lunch will be okay.
Bomboletti di Ricotta $18
Josh decides on the antipasto plate for his entree. Mix of cold meats such as mortadella, salami, prosciutto with olives, sundried tomatoes, artichokes etc. It is a big plate and Josh has a hard time getting through it and leaves about a quarter behind.
The asparaci alla siciliana grabs my attention but as I had prosciutto with breakfast I went for the bomboletti, but Mac decides to give it a go. Fresh Asparagus wrapped in prosciutto and provolone cheese. I swap Mac a bomboletti for one of his spears, the way they look reminds us of deep fried prawns. The asparagus is still al dente which I like, but I can’t work out where the provolone cheese is. They are topped with what looks like on first inspection aioli or mayonnaise but it actually tastes like tartare sauce. They aren’t too bad.
Asparaci alla Siciliana $18
It took me a while to decide on what I wanted for my main, but I finally decided on Scaloppine Marsala, veal with caramelised shallots in a marsala reduction. Will say this now, loud and proud, my version which I cook at home is far superior. Very uninspiring dish, slightly tough veal swimming in sauce. Not sure why they bothered with the tiny piece of broccoli on the plate, either serve vegetables with the meal or don’t, broccoli is not a garnish.
Scaloppine Marsala $27
Mac chose chicken with bacon and mushrooms, Pollo “something”, I forgot to write it down and it doesn’t appear on their online menu, sorry. Extremely salty and Mac isn’t impressed at all. It’s funny he really is less forgiving with restaurant dishes than I am. Both our meals come with a side dish of over cooked potatoes and carrots.
Chicken with bacon and mushroom $28
Potatoes & carrots – extremely over cooked
Salt and pepper squid was Josh’s decision. A very generous serving on a bed of lettuce which was nice a crisp but Josh felt it was a little too on the salty side as well.
Salt & Pepper Squid $28
We decide to go for dessert and I can’t go past the crème brulee, which comes with a side of gelato, I choose pistachio. I really enjoy the pistachio gelato, but sadly the crème brulee is missing that nice crisp cracking toffee topping and the custard is over cooked.
The guys go for the home made tiramisu. I had a try and thought it was okay as far as tiramisu goes (I’m not a great fan of the stuff), but both the boys find it very mediocre. What disappoints them the most is that it says on the menu it is served with a shot of espresso. What they didn’t realise was that their tiramisu would be floating in the shot.
Their wine list is very reasonable and middle of the road in regard to varieties.
The Grotta Capri seems to me to be more of the place that you would hold a function like a wedding with a underwater weird theme or large birthday party etc. I am glad I went, yes, will always be a lunch I remember. Would I go back, probably not.