Sunday, 5 May 2013

Review - The Ivy

The Ivy
540 Mount Dandenong Tourist Road
Olinda
Victoria

Cuisine: Italian
Taste Rating: 7/10   Value Rating: 6.5/10

Sat, 4 May 2013

The Ivy on Urbanspoon

Another lovely spring day in the Dandenong Mountains. We went for a drive up the winding mountain road lined with autumn foliage of reds and yellows highlighting the green. Stopped for a late lunch at The Ivy, situated literally at the corner of Mount Dandenong Tourist Road and Olinda-Monbulk Road. First impression was good. A cottage style white and blue building. 

 Entrance facing Olinda-Monbulk Road.

 Entrance facing Mount Dandenong Tourist Road.

Walking in from the crisp air, we felt the warmth from the open fireplace on one side of the dining area. On the other side of the dining area were two rows of tables, with tables placed closed together within each row. The waitress seated us at one of these tables. I was wondering if the tables near the open fireplace were "closed" as only one table was occupied and the others stayed empty while we were dining there.  One waitress told us that these empty tables were reserved but we could sit on the couch area. Another waitress told us that the open fireplace area "is open all the time" but they fill up the rows of tables on the other side first as "it is easier for us to serve". It seems a pity to leave this cosy area empty while filling up the other half of the dining area, especially as both sections are right next to each other in the small dining area. Dining is about the ambiance as well as the food.

Cosy Fire on a Crisp Autumn Day. 
Other side of dining area.
View out the window of Olinda-Monbulk Road and shops

The menu looked good, especially the wood-fire terracotta pot dishes. However, these were only available after 6 pm. I was going to order the seafood pasta linguini, one of my  favourite pasta dishes. However, the waitress pointed out that this too was available after 6 pm. She suggested the Specials Board. So we ordered Pescatore pizza from the regular menu and Pappardelle from the Specials Board. 

It was a late lunch and the place was about one quarter full. Service was reasonably fast. It took about 15 mins for the pizza to arrive, followed by the pasta about 5 minutes later.


Pappardelle (top). Pescatore Pizza (bottom).

The Pescatore pizza is listed on the menu as "Seasonal Seafood, Garlic, Parmesan, Mozzarella, Parsley, Extra Virgin Olive Oil in bianco". Bianco in this context means 'no tomato'. The look of the pizza is tantalising - plump prawns, scallops, mussels, generous octopus chunks. All on a thin pizza base. The taste is not bad - a bit bland but then you want to be able to taste the seafood, not seasonings. The outside edge of the pizza base had the texture and taste of cracker biscuits - this bursts into messy crumbs with the lightest touch so it was not easy to pick up a pizza slice by the edge. Not a problem for me as I used the cutlery but it requires some dexterity if you are eating by hand. The cracker biscuit taste did not complement the overall pizza taste. 


Pescatore Pizza 
Thin Pizza Base with good-sized chunks of Seafood
Pizza Crust all around is crumbly when lightly touched

Pappardelle is listed on the menu as "Porcino Mushrooms, Pine Nuts in a creamy pesto sauce, topped with parmesan cheese". The serve was quite large with a good amount of pine nuts and reasonable amount of sliced mushrooms. The mushrooms did look more like button mushrooms than porcino mushrooms. The dish was fairly tasty and would have been bland without the salty lift provided by the cheese.  The table did have a small condiments dish but the little bit of leftover salt flakes and pepper didn't look appealing.


Pappadelle Pasta
It is interesting that water is served in plastic cups. Looking around, we saw that this is the same for the other tables. It feels strange to be sitting in a restaurant sipping from disposable cups. 



There are signs for live gigs on Fridays and Sundays. I believe this takes place in a separate part of the building called the Lounge Bar area.

Overall, we had a reasonable lunch here.  Prices are pitched at the higher end. The Ivy website  mentions that ingredients are sourced from Italy. It would be good if the menu or the staff could describe or promote the Italian ingredients in the dishes - this may allow the customers to better appreciate the quality or authenticity of the dishes. There are more menu choices in the evening than for lunch, with interesting sounding main dishes which are not available until 6 pm. The restaurant exterior is aesthetically pleasing and the interior is nice while not outstanding. The outside environment is great as can be expected in the Dandenong Mountains. 

Menu
A La Carte Menu

Specials Board

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