10 Bushmans Way South Morang
I had known about this place for a while. Some friends of ours had gone there, and had mentioned that they primarily did pizza. I saw the same online, and along with some inconsistent reviews, decided that ‘pizza’ wasn’t enough to get me over to South Morang (say Moranj*) alone.
Boy was I wrong.
Another friend recently mentioned the place and its sprawling landscape, which spiked my interest in it again. So on a Sunday afternoon, Hubbie, Baby girl and I ventured over to Farm Vigano to see what the fuss was all about.
As soon as we entered the driveway, I could sense it. It was different. The tall trees gave the outdoor area a definite refinement, and by the drop in landscape along one side of the dwelling, and those green tree views of the surrounding parkland – WOW. Even after parking and starting our steep decent down towards the building, I kept getting the thought ‘where are we going?’ ‘and how does this place exist in these parts?’
We were not in Kansas/South Moranj anymore.
Outside, there were umbrella’d tables sitting upon concrete, with a few diners present there. That gave it a strong European feel, and inside, the Monaco feel just intensified. White surrounds, clean finishes, splashes of yellow with white stripes, a classic gold and unobtrusive cross on the wall, and elegant black shade lamps and black lantern candelabra-style fixtures adorned the place. I really felt like I was dining in a European café. It was poshy, yet very reminiscent of a certain time, and a certain place.
The place does perfectly at that too. The estate used to belong to the late restauranteur Mario Vigano and his artist wife Maria Teresa, and the culture they upheld certainly has stood the test of time and made its way splendidly to the present day. The attention to detail and immediate atmosphere you get upon entering, are unmistakable. I want to come back in my next life as an Italian. I’m already half way there, I have the prerequisite of loving pasta.
We had been lucky at arriving just after 2pm, and naively hadn’t booked. We were queried this, but despite it were still seated by the window, with an amazing outlook of the acreage below.
We were so lucky to be early and naïve, rather than late and so, because in half an hour this place was rocking, and really full. From walking in to a room of NO ONE, to a room that was brimming with voices just a short time later, left me stunned. It led me to the conclusion that they MUST open for lunch after 2pm, but having looked through their web site I didn’t find anything to confirm that, so I still don’t know. It was our stupid luck indeed.
After I started sipping on my pinot grigio looking across the expansive landscape
(it’s a hard life) we got this:
No 201 Pappardelle Con Salsiccia – pappardelle with Italian pork sausage ragu
Gamberetti – flash fried school prawns, w/ coriander, ginger, chilli & sriracha hot sauce
And the Schiacciata – rustic pizza w/ garlic, rosemary and Spanish onion
First I’ll mention that the meals came really quickly, but maybe that’s because we’d managed to order before everyone else arrived and subsequently ordered. It was surprising.
The pasta was for Hubbie as he hadn’t actually eaten yet. He liked the saucy and meaty pasta dish, and I loved the texture of the pasta itself, but other than that he didn’t think it was anything unbelievable or life-altering.
The waitress had informed me it was “baby prawns” I was getting in the Gamberetti, however I didn’t realise what she meant until I got them – a whole bowl of actual tiny prawns, with their soft shells intact. Having never eaten these in my life, I didn’t know whether I was meant to peel them, or eat the thing as is sardine style. I soon realised that shelling it was necessary, though a few pieces went devoured unchecked… getting through that bowl and peeling each piece properly was both time-consuming and messy!
The pizza was mainly reserved for baby girl, who enjoyed holding the slice herself and chomping in. Bless 🙂 It was a great tasting pizza, so simple and fresh with its tried-and-tested base ingredients.
Although there were aspects of our meal that we wouldn’t revisit, I felt that was partly due to the fact that we hadn’t been properly prepared for it (both baby girl and I had already eaten) and also as those previous reviews had informed me, the menu selection was a bit narrow. A huge range of pizzas was accompanied by some side dishes, two pasta options, and the only meat on the menu was pork and lamb, both advised to be shared by at least two people. However, with the antipasto selection as well, along with the quality of all they offered, I could suddenly understand why the place had become packed instantly on a Sunday at 2pm. Did I mention those green surrounds? OMG. This place, even if it only did pizza, was worth it.
We decided to get some coffees, and they too arrived very quickly.
Baby girl loved her babycino, but then again she won’t knock back any frothed/chocolatey milk she gets. After her half cup of froth, she happily drank the rest of the mix, leaving beautiful chocolate marks alongside her mouth, cheeks and forehead. A good sign.
Although I had really enjoyed my coffee, I hadn’t noticed until the other day when we ventured there again for coffee only…. that the coffee was REALLY good. It was hot – so hot Hubbie burnt his tongue first time he went to sip it. Coffee is never that hot. If anything, it’s lukewarm when it arrives. This was hot, not burning hot, but HOT. Secondly, it was smooth, with not ONE little tenth of a taste of any bitterness. Thirdly, it was strong, but not so strong that it would leave me with the fear of being up ‘til 1am that following morning. And, on both occasions of having this coffee, it was consistent. Both at busy times, and not.
Which when added up, leaves me with a pretty perfect coffee.
What?! A perfect coffee? Like the food and the surrounds and the EVERYTHING, I just wasn’t ready for this.
Food: 7.5/10… though this rating would have likely gone up had we indulged in the desserts. Did someone mention Nutella doughnuts? OMG that’s right, the top selection of their desserts lists this scrumptious bombolone, which means… (check ‘In a nutshell’).
Even though we weren’t overwhelmed with happy vibes over our particular selections that day, we still can’t wait to come back to try more… hungrier this time.
Coffee: 9.5/10. Like I said, I wasn’t ready for this! Am I right, to possibly give this café the highest score in coffee, something previously never before done by me? Because I wasn’t expecting this, and I didn’t fully critique the taste in the moment, I will almost give it the highest score, in the knowledge that it was consistently good on both occasions, but also I didn’t get a chance to really savour it, if you know what I mean. But decently strong – tick. Smooth – tick. Hot – tick. I need to know what type of coffee they use, because I just can’t stop thinking about it.
Ambience: Laidback Euro-style mixed with $$$. It was relaxed, certainly more so when the volume rose several octaves and the restaurant was brimming with voices, but there was a definite refinement to the air, or maybe that was the fresh bush surroundings…
People: As above. These are the rich folk who come out to party with their (well-earned) cash. It was painfully obvious. There were several functions happening all at the same time, comprising of anything from 5 to 15 people, many groups of older people dining out, and families. Not really a ‘young person’ thing, but I have to say it has nothing to do with the pricing accessibility of the dishes, it’s not that expensive… yet for some reason, it’s just all the older generation hanging off the parklands. Interesting. All are certainly welcome though, as there was like us, another family with littlies on the next table, who up’d and left after literally half an hour of juggling their two boys. Leaving all their uneaten food on the table. (Like I said, $$$).
Staff: They were lovely and attentive. Didn’t really get any special personal ‘warmth’ like what we receive in other restaurants, where you feel like you get on a first-name basis with the waitress to the point of catching up for after-work drinks, but still they were professional and on cue.
Price: $81 for our 3 meals, two alcoholic beverages and 3 coffees. They charged us $1 for baby girl’s babycino! All it was was frothed milk. There was chocolate milk underneath the foam rather than just plain milk, but still, come on guys. I have a massive grip (see here) with restaurants charging for babycinos, especially since the kid’s parents are usually paying for other items, and therefore shouldn’t have to pay about the $1 mark for a few tablespoons of froth. I can somehow turn the blind eye when for example baby girl gets marshmallows, or some bikkie on the side, but still, come on. It’s the freaking moral. Restaurants unfairly charging for babycinos won’t keep me from ordering them, but it will keep me continuing to shout from the rooftops “Babycinos should be for free!”
Advice: So definitely book. Here, I think it’s a thing. It was dumb luck that we came in before everyone else and got one of the best seats in the house. If it’s a weekday you’ll probably get away with it though. The driveway down to the restaurant is steep, so be aware high-heeled ladies and walking-impaired others.
In a nutshell: I need to come back here, for so many reasons. 1) the coffee (what bean do they use?) 2) their other pizzas (there are so many!) and 3) the bombolone. Did I mention the Nutella doughnuts? Nutella doughnuts people, and I’m not even a Nutella fan!
And 4) the view. Oh the view. An amazing find, a true gem in this part of the ‘burbs, and a lucky treat for the locals.
(*I can make fun of the Northern suburbs because I live there 😉 )