Cecconi’s Flinders Lane is a much-awarded Italian restaurant stalwart in Melbourne and their recent revamp in décor drips of old school glamour with a capital G.
My memories of Cecconi’s was as a place of celebratory feasting with friends, romantic tete-a-tetes and even a wedding.
I was invited to sample their new seasonal menu and it appears that the relaunch has not changed Cecconi’s approach. It’s still a fine dining establishment which knows how to deliver a complete experience in food, service and ambience.
Tottering down the basement steps your first view is of the quiet, well-ordered open plan kitchen centre stage. As well as being practical, the hanging copper pots and pans lent a warm glow to the surroundings and touches of copper were echoed in some of the other décor such as the wall lights.
Near the stylish bar there’s a subtle nod to the Cecconi’s heritage with the framed portraits of family members hanging on the back wall.
I was also particularly taken by the huge dome pendant lamps with a delicately ornate etchings on the porcelain inner. Overall the look is sharp and polished – a place to impress.
To start we were offered some smart canapés – melting San Daniele prosciutto twisted around long grissini and mushroom arancini with garlicky aoili to name a few.
Then, the first course – a heady truffle and parmesan risotto. A creamy, earthy dish lifted to decadence by the extravagant amount of freshly shaved black truffle spiking the plate.
Second course was Chatham Island Blue Cod, confit tomato, fennel, fried zucchini flower from the owner’s garden and a drizzle of aged balsamic. The fish was perfectly pan-fried with a slight hint of crispness on the outer edges, which meant that I would have preferred the zucchini flower to be more lightly battered as I felt overall that the textural balance was on the dry side.
The dish of the night was twice cooked duck and the most luxurious sweet potato puree. Who knows how much cream or butter was whisked into that puree but it was like eating marshmallow. The duck was perfectly cooked, simultaneously juice and crispy.
Dessert was a jar of caramel pannacotta layered with broken wild fig cake and macadamia ice cream. I felt that serving the pannacotta in a jar diminished its impact somewhat as the other ingredients dominated the palate before your spoon hit the bottom. Nevertheless, an artful twist on an Italian classic.
Based on my dinner it seems that Cecconi’s will be continuing on with what it does best – fine dining without stuffiness, Italian food without fussiness and a place that’s sure to impress your parents, your friends or your date.