Lygon street in Carlton is the heart of Italian dining in Melbourne. And Carmine’s Bistro is one that stands out for creating authentic Italian dishes with a modern twist. The meals are exciting and innovative and most of all they are damn tasty.
As you walk in there are beautifully set tables with big posters on the wall, quirky lamps and book shelves. It has a warm inviting atmosphere with lots of character.
Loving this horse lamp. I love lamp.
They have an a la cart menu or you can select the ‘feed me’ option which is where they serve you a banquet of their favourite dishes. And believe me when they say they’ll feed you, they absolutely mean it. We had the ‘feed me’ option and I was literally feeling full until dinner time the next day. As the food comes out it’s exciting because you don’t know what’s next, and the food is fab so you can trust the chef will look after you.
First up we had the mozerella mousse, which was delicious. The mousse was smooth and cheesy, topped with tomato and house made green olive oil. The Italian colours and flavours presented in a modern style starter was a great first impression.
Next an array of assorted bruschetta served on a wooden board. There was anchiovy, capsicum and goats cheese, roasted zuchinni and eggplant, procuitto and bococcini and tomato with oregano and olive oil all on thick slices of ciabatta bread. They were nice flavour combos and a great accompaniment to a glass of wine or two. We had a really yummy pinot grigio.
The mushroom cappuccino and onion donut was was like wow creative. The cappuccino was a shot of mushroom puree, which had a nice bitter taste (like coffee) with foam on top. The onion donut was a cheesey onion filling shaped like a donut, covered in bread crumbs and deep fried. They were a good pair.
The lamb lollipops were fun to eat. It was a lamb and pistachio meatball on a stick sitting on top of a shot of sambucca cream.
The sambucca cream was a beautiful creamy shot (not at all like an actual sambucca shot) with a very subtle sambucca flavour that complimented the meatball perfectly. The pistachio in the meatball was a great addition especially for textural value.
The scallops were amazing. Perfectly seared and drizzled with a creamy lemon sauce and their house made green olive oil. Those scallops! Simple and stunning. It was served with some cubes of bread, which is just what you need to soak up every drop of that wonderful sauce.
The beef carpaccio looked like a little garden, pretty like a picture. The beef was thinly sliced and had a soft smooth texture (sort of like sliced salmon). The beef was covered with an arrangement of sliced olives, fresh tomato and little lettuce leaves, with spots of creamy aioli, sharp parmesan, crushed almonds and rounded off with the zest of grated lime rind. It was magnificent. A beautiful balance of flavours and textures. Spring on a plate I call it.
Celeriac lasagna was the next dish and was a fantastic idea executed well. The lasagna sheets were crispy layers of fried celeriac with a smooth celeriac puree in between each layer. It was served with tiny cubes of sautéed celeriac and had deep-fried celeriac strands placed on top. If you’re a celeriac fan (and I am), it’s safe to assume you will love this dish (and I did). It was served with a tasty mushroom consommé.
The handmade ravioli was filled with chicken and had flavours of port. It was served with parsnip puree, charred cherry tomatoes and crispy fried basil. Yum!
The chicken cacciatore was packed with flavour. It was cooked like a chicken roulade with a lovely nutty herb stuffing and the chicken skin was golden brown. It was served with a light buffalo mozzerella mousse and a tomato based sauce with potatoes and spring onions.
And just when we thought we couldn’t eat anymore we had one more dish. A sweet one, a nutella pizza. It was a thin sweet pizza base covered in a thick layer of nutella topped with strawberries, a donut and vanilla icecream. It was decadent.
And lastly coffee.
At Carmine’s they embrace all the flavour and heartiness of Italian homestyle cooking and present it in an exciting and inspiring way. The staff were friendly and made us feel right at home. I loved the ‘feed me’ option, it was an absolute feast. They delivered exciting renditions on authentic Italian classics.
I heart Carmine’s Bistro!
Address: 234 Lygon St, Carlton VIC 3053
Phone: 03 9663 3151
Trading Hours: Mon-Sun: 12pm-10pm everyday