I had the absolute pleasure recently of dining with a gorgeous bunch of women at George Calombaris and Shane Delia’s restaurant, St. Katherine’s. This was the second time I’ve eaten at St. Katherine’s and both have been wonderful. It’s an interesting place bringing together a modern take on Greek, Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisines with some real flare. The concept revolves around sharing plates, with everything from entrees to dessert having the option to share with your dining companions – though if your like me you might not be too happy about giving up any of your dessert.
This time we were dining on a Saturday night and it was BUSY! We were booked for 6.45pm and as they have several sittings, we had to be out by about 9pm. I don’t like restaurants that have sittings like this, I think its all about making as much money as possible, churning people and food out as quickly as possible making for a harried experience. I will be upfront in saying that it was a bit like that on this instance. In fact we were asked to vacate our table before we had had a chance to even look at the dessert menu let alone order coffee. Thankfully they found us a (very) little spot near the bar to finish our meal, but it’s not the same as being able to enjoy your entire meal without the concern about time. The first time I dined there it was a Monday night so we didn’t have that trouble. I would recommend going on a quieter weeknight, or taking the last sitting if you can hold out til 9.30 or 10pm.
There are several choices when it comes to ordering, you can opt for the traditional a la carte menu (with the famous ‘KFC’) , though they are still designed to share, or you can choose one of the set menu – the two course (entree and main) “Quick Kat’s” or the more elaborate “When Mum Feeds Me” which can also be added to if you want a really full-on St. Katherine’s experience. On this occasion we went for the “Quick Kat’s” and then ordered our own desserts, though I have done the “When Mum Feeds Me” on the previous visit.
The entree – which was very generous in serving size – included a lamb and tomato pide, hummus, a slow roasted eggplant in tomato sauce, pickled zucchini with almonds (I think, my memory is a bit vague on that one despite it being delicious) and tiny fried school prawns which were amazing – and even better that a couple of my dining companions didn’t eat prawns so there were plenty for the rest of us. All these elements worked wonderfully together and I find it hard to pick a favourite, the prawns were definitely up there, but I think for me I’d go with the eggplant – appropriate considering my earlier post.
Main arrived a little while later, though with us only just having finished with entree (that’s what happens when you have sittings). It was all from the grill, salmon, chicken and lamb, cooked slowly over coal with that classic smoky quality. The salmon had a lovely peppery, crispy skin, cooked to perfection as they say on TV (and even cooked to order for our pregnant diner). The lamb was tender and falling apart with a rich intense flavour. The chicken was again cooked perfectly, but some found it a bit salty (I thought it was okay, but I get how others might have found it a bit on the salty side). The mains were accompanied by St. Katherine’s amazing rice pilaf with apricot, dill, carrot and toasted pumpkin seeds – although it was a side dish it was probably the star, if you go I urge you to order this whatever dining option you choose!
The dessert menu is spectacular – I knew what I was going to order for dessert before I even left home, and shamefully I wasn’t willing to share. It was a Chocolate Chip mouse with hot jam doughnuts and whiskey jelly. Others thought it was too rich and couldn’t finish it, it is rich that’s for sure, but I scraped the glass clean. The other dessert I’ve tried is the peanut butter parfait with baklava crumbs, chocolate sorbets and orange blossom foam. The other dessert that was ordered, though I didn’t try, was one of the Mr Whippy ice cream options, salted caramel with pomegranate brownie and chocolate and pomegranate sauce – it looked delicious. Now if you’re brave or dining with kids the HUGE shared ice cream sundae which comes in an enormous martini glass with multiple spoons and includes pop rocks and ice magic looks like a lot of fun.
When it comes to beverages they have quite an array, cocktails, mocktails, jugs, an extensive wine list, loads of ouzos and rakis as well as other spirits and then of course tea and coffee including Greek and Arabic coffee and Moroccan mint tea. We enjoyed a couple of bottles of a Lebanese white wine (sorry I can’t remember more than that) and the wine list offers quite a selection of wines from a similar area as the food originates from. Though I generally like to go with Australian wines it was nice to try something different and it did suit the meal wonderfully. I did find the wine list overly expensive though, which is perhaps another way to really make a healthy turnover.
And that brings us to the end of the review. As a purely food focused experience this was fantastic, and the company was brilliant, but I prefer a more leisurely dining atmosphere which you don’t get in such a bustling restaurant with such a rapid turn over of tables. I’ve heard it touted as being great for families, I think the early sitting (ie 6pm or even a little earlier) might work, lunch would be better, but either way you’d need kids willing to sit happily at the table – mine don’t fit into that category – it’s not somewhere they could wander around (read run wild!). The sharing concept is, however, perfectly suited for families.