Sunday, 26 October 2014

Rustic and Wholesome Italian at Divido, Mt Hawthorn

 Last weekend my sister turned seventeen, so in order to celebrate we went to dinner at Divido in Mt. Hawthorn. Divido is a much talked about restaurant that serves up rustic and wholesome Italian dishes. It's quite a formal place, but it has a laid back and casual feel about it. The food and service was great, and I'd love to come back. The menu at Divido is quite limited and in my opinion, I was glad it was because it made it easier to choose and it also shows that each dish is special and thought out carefully. The a la carte menu has four entree and main options, two types of pasta of the day, a selection of sides and a separate menu for desserts. There's also the option for a degustation with or without accompanying drinks. Seeing as we went on the Saturday night, the options that night was to have the degustation menu, or to have a three course meal at $89 per person. We opted for the later. If you're not the type to have a three course meal, don't go to Divido on Saturday because there is a set requirement.

Our booking was made for six, which was quite earlier seeing as there was only two other tables. However, the restaurant filled up to maximum capacity that night. By the time we finished the restaurant was buzzing and noisy. Divido is quite small, it seats up to fifty people roughly and the tables are quite close together. We were seated in the middle of the room closest to the bar. Excuse the bad photographs, I had to rely on my iPhone 4s and the dimmed lighting didn't make it any easier!
The set three course meal came with complimentary house-made sourdough bread with olive oil and balsamic, which I was so grateful for. The sourdough was delicious and had the best texture. I'm a big fan of chewy and dense things and the sourdough was exactly that. Not too dense, but it had a great bite to it. It was so rustic and had that unmistakable sourness that sourdough has! The set meal also came with a choice of side, we chose the green beans, pancetta with garlic and onion, although the potato parmigiana sounded so tempting!
For entree, I ordered the wood roasted cauliflower salad that came with pickled peppers, almond sauce and capers. Dvido has their own wood fire oven which makes things twice as good! The combination of all the different flavours went so well together and the cauliflowers were roasted to perfection. It was simple, pretty and a great start to the night.
My sister ordered the grilled quail with pear, walnut and wiltof salad with aged balsamic. Again, the flavour combination was wow! It was a perfect size too. The sweetness from the pear, the richness of the balsamic, the crunchy buts and the freshness of the salad combined with the tender quail was so, so good.
My mum ordered the shallow fried calamari that came with lemon aioli and pickled vegetables. Calamari is always a crowd pleaser, at Divido the calamari was tender, juicy and not rubbery at all. The squeeze of lemon cuts through the batter and the oil making it a perfect balance of taste. So, so good. It was plated on a wooden board with brown parchment which I thought added a nice touch.
For main I order the wood roasted half duck that came with buckwheat polenta, mustard fruits, spring onions and porcini sauce. Half a duck sounds like a lot, but it was only half of a duck's breast. It was cooked to perfection in their wood fired oven. The skin was so crispy and crunchy and the meat was tender, juicy and flavoursome. I thought that it would have been really heavy and oily, as duck tends to be, but it was surprisingly light. Not light as a salad, I mean that it filled me up just nicely. It wasn't too oily and it didn't have much animal fat, it was all rendered and so good! The crispy skin acted as a covering for the meat because when I sliced the duck, there was steam rolling out it. It was so hot underneath the skin that it burnt the inside of my mouth. I didn't mind though because it was worth it. I'm glad it came out really hot because I'm a really slow eater so it didn't go cold!
My mum order the fish of the day which was a grilled cod with slices of grapefruit, leeks and zucchini purée. The fish wasn't as memorable as the duck, but it was perfectly cooked and had a wonderful fresh mix of flavours.
My sister ordered the pasta of the day. There was two option that night, one was smoked riccotta stuffed crepes with tomato and bechamel sauce and the other was handmade pappardelle with lamb ragu. She opted for the first option, the crepes! I actually expected the dish to use pasta sheets as the outer layer of the dish, but it was actually normal crepes. The smoked ricotta was so interesting, it added a deep depth to the dish. The portion looks like it's on the smaller side, but according to my sister it was really filling.
For dessert, I ordered the chocolate Zuppa Inglese, which is basically a custard based dessert that came with poached pears, Frangelico and honeycomb. It wasn't overly sugary or sweet which was great, it had a slight bitterness from the Frangelico and the dark chocolate. This mixed together with the subtle sweetness of the pear and the crunchy honeycomb created interesting flavours and textures. This dessert was nice, although it didn't nearly pack a punch like the vanilla pannacotta.

If you're going to have dessert, the vanilla pannacotta with strawberry compote and crostoli is a must. The pannacotta was so smooth and creamy. It had a wonderful taste from the black vanilla seeds speckled all over the pannacotta, and the presentation was so beautiful. It's so easy to eat, so watch out, it's best to savour the textures and the flavours! It was so light but creamy at the same time, ah panacotta is such a dreamy dessert.
We also ordered the Fritule which are Croatian doughnuts, it came on a bed of blood orange, caramel and milk crumbs. My sister commented saying that it was similar to San Churros in the sense that it was deep fried dough with a sugar and cinnamon dusting, which isn't a bad thing. The dessert isn't being degraded by this comparison because it had it's own unique flavour combinations, especially the surprising freshness from the fruit. The doughnuts were quite light and not oily at all, and went so well with the sweetness of the caramel and the fresh, juicy blood orange. I enjoyed it a lot!
Wow this has been a long post! Overall, I really enjoyed Divido and I really want to dine here again even if I have to have the same meal again! It has a lovely atmosphere, delicious food and friendly service, what more can you ask for?
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