Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The Alphabet Dinners: B is for Bande à Part

OK, so if you cast your mind back to last week, you'll remember my new Tuesday evening pastime... picking a cheap eatery from The Age Cheap Eats guide each week in alphabetical order, then eating and blogging.

All up to speed? Good. So this week... B is for Bande à Part.


Named after a 1964 film directed by Jean-Luc Godard (or so Wikipedia suggests), this is one of those 21st century pizzerias that makes pizzas with a fascinating array of fresh ingredients. Away, tinned pineapple!

I'll get to the food in a moment. Unfortunately this so-cool eatery in a deep Carlton North shopfront suffered from some of the standard problems found in so-cool eateries and bars. To wit:
  • The door was open on a cold evening, so we were pretty cold. I'm always whinging about Melbourne cafes leaving doors open in cold weather, so rest assured this place is not alone re this particular sin (BTW my Mum was with me, visiting from Perth. Having Tuesday dinner with your Mum isn't exactly inner-city cutting-edge and cool, but what the hell.)
  • The waiters were coolly efficient rather than friendly.
  • The music was too loud for easy conversation.
  • The light was too dark to read the menu easily.
  • The menu was displayed in a tiny serif-packed font that was difficult to read in the prevailing light conditions.
Having said all that, the food was good; though you're going to have to excuse the quality of my iPhone photography this week, as the iPhone 3GS camera is pretty poor in low light.

First up was a "salad" of fried haloumi cheese served with flatbread, slices of fresh beetroot and fresh mint. I forgot to take a picture of it on its original plate, so here's half of it on my own plate. Very tasty, all ingredients making their presence felt.


A glass of the house red arrived, some species of sangiovese which was rather good.

Then the main, a large Ring of Fire pizza. Great name, though one was initially suspicious it might be one of those insanely hot dishes that young blokes eat to prove their manhood. But no, it was a nicely judged mix of tomato, buffalo mozzarella, char-grilled peppers, spanish onion, oregano and chilli oil; spicy but not crazily so. Also aesthetically pleasing, dominated by different shades and textures of red.


And here's a bonus: Mum's Mushroom pizza with tomato, stracchino cheese, mushrooms, garlic and parsley.


The generous scattering of fresh parsley made it look visually pleasing, though Mum did comment that it wasn't as flavoursome as she expected after the haloumi. That's a common drawback with gourmet pizzas, I find - they have high quality, subtly flavoured fresh ingredients, but that subtlety means they rarely pack the flavour punch of your classic capricciosa.

Overall though, a good meal and well made.

The Bill: $54 for two.
The Restaurant: Bande à Part, 749 Nicholson St, Carlton North; ph 03 9388 8950.