Pendolino, the Strand Arcade

>> October 5, 2009

I have wanted to visit Pendolino for ages and ever since it was awarded one chef's hat, my desire to visit only increased.

Then lo and behold, I finally had the chance to try out this hidden gem when my friend, the Muse happily agreed to come with me on a rainy Friday night.

The restaurant is located on the 2nd level of the Strand Arcade on Pitt Street. I googled some pictures of the restaurant for your viewing pleasure.

There are a few tables outside the restaurant - I'm not sure if this is the cafe section?



The inside of the restaurant - with bright light!


Our reservation was for 6.30pm and there were already a number of tables filled as we walked in. Within half an hour, most of the tables were full and within an hour, every table was taken.

Two things hit me instantly as we walked in.

One. It is dark inside the restaurant. Very dark. I was expecting this after having read other reviews but the reality of it is a bit surprising. At first it was quirky but I became slightly frustrated at not being able to see my food properly. Aside from a small candle on the table, they provide a small lamp for reading the menu. When it isn't menu-reading-time, the lamp is whisked away. I asked if the lamp could stay on the table, and they immediately brought it back. But a little bit later, it was taken away again to another table who needed to read their menu. Then it was brought back again. But then it was taken away again! :(

The second thing was the sign of good service. Two waiters asked me how I was as we walked through the restaurant to our table. How often does that happen in Sydney?


Inside Pendolino



Wines or olive oils? I was too far away to see


We were seated by a friendly waiter who promptly brought out some water for the table.

Menu cover



As I mentioned earlier, there is a small 'mushroom shaped' lamp for menu reading.

The brave lamp, shining its light over the dark abyss


Small candle



We placed our orders and also asked for some recommendations from the wine list. The waiter sent over the sommelier who was extremely helpful and informative. He explained the different regions of the grapes used in the wines and how that affected the sweetness and acidity in flavour. After the wine was served, he returned to check whether we liked it or not. Great service!

Unfortunately, the name of the wine that I ended up choosing completely escapes me! I can't remember what wine the Muse ordered either.

But here is a picture of the glass...



Pendolino is rather well known for its selections of olive oil so I was excited to discover the three varieties on the table.

A small bread basket was ready and waiting


The three olive oils


The first one, 'Sanguinella', which I have now wikied to mean 'blood orange from Sicily' had a strong mandarin flavour.

The second, 'Limone,' was one of my favourites. It had a light lemon flavour that was deliciously refreshing when eaten with the bread.


And lastly, 'fruttato' had an unusual green grape flavour - this was my other favourite!


The Muse and I had decided to share an entree and it came out very quickly.

Can't remember what this was called! Slap on the wrist for me

Price: um....another slap on the wrist?


The waiter returned to ask if we would like him to serve the entree for us. Sure!

He was efficient and plated it for us separately in no time at all.

It was delicious! The prawns had a grilled flavour that showcased their sweetness and sat on a bed of potato mash. The potato had some sort of cheese mixed in as well. Darn, if only I had a copy with the menu with me! Alas, you will have to make do with my layperson description.

But two thumbs up, I would have happily eaten a larger portion of this as my main.

I wasn't hungry when the Muse and I met up for dinner (due to eating at sushi train by myself about an hour earlier) but stupidly ordered the main sized pasta anyway - and then couldn't finish it!

PAPPARDELLE CON RAGU DI VITELLA E MAGGIORANA ($34)
Organic Hand Cut Pappardelle with Braised White Rocks Veal Sauce, Veal Marrow and Marjoram


Now, I know proportion doesn't really translate well in these small photos but the serving was huge! Even with help from the Muse, there were leftovers. The pasta was so yummy. I actually didn't like the crumbed veal marrow balls but luckily for me, there was only one on the plate....hm.

The Muse had selected the special of the night.

Chicken ravioli with prosciutto crumble and broad beans ($39)


Those little bits that look like burnt bits are actually the prosciutto crumble! This was also really nice.

We also ordered a side salad which we barely made a dent in.

Rocket, pear and parmesan salad ($11)


By now, I was seriously stuffed.

But of course.....DESSERT!!! Yayayyayaya

At the beginning of the meal, I had already decided that I wanted the strawberry millefoglie. At the end of the meal, I reassessed my choice and decided to go with something else.

Selection of sorbet and ice cream ($12)


In case you're thinking that these dessert photos look better than the other ones, you're right. It's because I was forced to whip out my proper camera for the flash because the mushroom lamp had been taken away again :(


If it weren't for the entree, the pasta and the olive oils, I would say that this dessert was the highlight of the meal. There were two scoops of sorbet and one scoop of ice cream. The menu didn't reveal what the flavours were but from my tastebuds: one scoop of sorbet was grapefruit and the ice cream had a distinct honey taste. There were also some orange segments hidden at the bottom of the glass.

The Muse was on a roll with ordering the specials of the night because he also ordered the special dessert.

Ricotta fritter balls with cherry compote and toffee


I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Pendolino and am looking forward to returning again soon! And they are also open for lunch!

Pendolino on Urbanspoon

6 comments:

Cheechoo,  October 7, 2009 at 2:02 AM  

was it very expensive to eat there?

retrodaze October 7, 2009 at 1:07 PM  

Hi Cheechoo: Expensive is a very subjective term, but I would say it falls at the higher end. It also depends on how much you order though, you might only want a main and dessert which wouldn't set you back too much.

Maria@TheGourmetChallenge October 7, 2009 at 3:37 PM  

I remember walking past this place on my last visit to Sydney. The ravioli looks very nice indeed. I think the ricotta fritter balls would have been my favorite though

retrodaze October 10, 2009 at 11:48 AM  

Hi Maria: The ricotta balls tasted like pieces of donut, quite nice actually!

Uday October 13, 2009 at 1:36 PM  

Hey Retrodaze...(lest we reveal to the world your secret identity)
I've read so much about this place in good living mag. I will have to save for this place tho...and it'll have to be a special occasion too.
also were u guys sharing? that is an excellent idea.
One needs a fellow foodie to try out a place like pendolino...
another place u might want to check out - A tavola in Darlinghurst- I've read and drooled but not conquered :P
catch ya

retrodaze October 13, 2009 at 9:28 PM  

Hi Uday: I definitely recommend Pendolino, save up your pennies because it will be worth it.

Thanks for the heads up about A Tavola, I just googled it and it looks good!

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