Today on The Dining Diaries,
We encounter a waitress who makes it her mission to make sure we are kept at a perfect temperature,
We are served pasta that is so full of love, it refuses to let go of each other and clumps together on the plate and
We discover a restaurant that seems to be suffering from a multiple personality disorder.
Cafe Salsa is an interesting place at West Beach. In fact, I would say that most Adelaidiens are familiar with the iconic building on West Beach Road.
Walking in, I really didn’t know what to expect. I mean, the place is called “Salsa”. That makes you think Mexican doesn’t it? Latin American? I know that it’s also an Italian word however most people would immediately make a Latin American connection. The music that was playing was definitely of the Latin variety and if I hadn’t already seen the menu online, I would have been definitely expecting a Mexican or Spanish menu.
Upon entering the restaurant, I found my senses needing to adjust once again. We had just walked into a place with a retro sixties look.
Old movie posters on the walls, linoleum tiles on the floor and an inactive jukebox behind the waiters station.
Having said that, our waitress was lovely and friendly and as mentioned, was very concerned that we were not too hot or not too cold and kept coming back to check that our area was temperature comfortable.
The menu we were given showed this restaurant was decidedly Italian. I LOVE pasta so I was happy about that but it didn’t feel like we were in an Italian restaurant.
We started off with Scacchiata Paesana – Freshly baked pizza bread topped with prosciutto, fresh rocket and shaved parmesan
This was a wonderful surprise when we came. Hubby and I had expected to receive a pizza base with a drizzle of oil and perhaps a few slices of prosciutto. What we got was so much more!
The base was light and crispy crunchy. The prosciutto was salty and flavoursome and the rocket was the balancer in between.
It really was much bigger than we expected and thankfully there weren’t too many people in the restaurant at that time as we devoured that thing!
For our mains, we chose the Papardelle Ragu – Pasta ribbons pan tossed in a rich beef ragu and the Scotch Fillet with spinach and sweet potato mash
Now one of the most exciting things about this menu to me, was that the pasta was all home made so I was really looking forward to this dish.
I LOVE pasta and can eat it almost anyway but this was not exactly what I was expecting. I thought the pasta hadn’t been cooked well. A lot of pieces were clumped together making it hard and stodgy. The pieces that were free were actually very pleasant to eat but there were far too many clumps in there and if I had served that to someone, I’d be terribly embarrassed. The ragu part was done very well though. The meat was soooo tender and fell away effortlessly. In fact I thought there was a generous amount of meat in that ragu. The sauce was rich in flavour and they topped it all with my favourite herb, basil. I was wanting a piece of bread to mop up the rest of the sauce when I was done!
Because I love pasta, I still enjoyed this dish but it really could have been so much better
Hubby had a similar experience with his Scotch Fillet. This dish was well seasoned, colourful and very inviting.
He ate the first few pieces with his eyes closed, savouring every bite however when he got to the middle, he found gristle upon gristle and that was a little disappointing for him. The steak had a lovely flavour though and even the Sweet Potato Mash had a peppery taste.
So while hubby didn’t hate his dish, the gristle was a huge let down.
I wouldn’t say we had a bad time here, in fact I think this place has a lot of potential but I think it really needs to find itself. Decide what it wants to be and go for that, instead of trying to incorporate too many cultures.
The food was good but not great however with a bit more care, I think it could be exceptional. They’re really not that far off the mark.
Have you been to Cafe Salsa?
What did you think?
Let me know in the comments below!
Till next we chow…