Popolo Italian Kitchen and Bar
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Southbank is tucked away at the very end of the river front walk. Although the aesthetic mimics the canteens of Italy, I couldn't help feeling amused as I pointed out a giant neon sign located above the bar. Kitschy and tacky, two worlds were colliding and I hadn't even reached the limits of the open air restaurant.
A young waitress greeted my partner (I was momentarily distracted). She looked somewhat harassed by the Friday night crowd and stood on a vaguely familiar precipice, ready to throw in the towel. One long glance at our friendly faces must have changed her mind, as she picked up her customer service hat and showed us to our table. Perched by a pristine view of water, I allowed myself to feel excited by the menu.
Entrée: Polpette – Pork and beef meatballs, with a dollop of full bodied tomato sauce.
Now, I love a good meatball. My vegetarian friends would be somewhat disgusted with my feverish gusto, as my teeth ripped into the meaty sphere of perfection. And that, my readers is where my delusion ends. It wasn't perfect, nowhere near delightful. The dry pork rolled around in my mouth, begging for a dab of extra sauce to lubricate the embedded spice. Sadly, spare sauce was scarce.
Dinner: Pesce Al Forno and Rosmario Patate – Whole baked fish and salsa verde, with baby chat potatoes, baked in rosemary and garlic.
I grew up in a seafood restaurant. I know a winning seafood dish from the pretenders and contenders. The chef at Popolo produced a perfectly balanced plate, as the salsa verde bursts on the palate, working with the subtle flavours of the trout. Not everybody will enjoy the pairing of fish and potatoes, but I couldn't get enough of them. My partner fork battled me for the last one. I lost. Alternative side dishes include a list of salads, lentils and vegetables.
Desert: Zeppole al Ciccolato – Chocolate donuts, served with pistachio crumble and sweet basil gelato.
I have never walked away from a desert feeling so distressed and satisfied. Filled with a thick ganache/fudge chocolate concoction, the donuts are heavy in the stomach but oh so addictive. Out of the four in front of us, we were only able to finish one each. Okay, I ate another half, determined to make a respectable dent for pleasures sake but the desert rush was too overwhelming.
Expect to share. All meals are staggered, or in normal people terms, meals come out in stages to be enjoyed by everyone at the table.
Does Popolo succeed next to South Brisbane heavyweights like the neighbouring Jetty? Most of the time. Shame about the meatballs.
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214306 - 2023-06-16 07:03:37