Hallo, Grüß Gott, buongiorno, bonjour and “g’day”.

It’s your old pal Kit (Christof) Fennessy here, just returned from a month long tour of the Alps. I hope (plan) to give each city we visited a review, and pass on any eating tips or associated recipes I gleaned over the coming weeks, as we work our way through winter here.

I've been writing this blog with your help for nine years, and there's over a hundred recipes, restaurant reviews of Australia and around the world, and general gourmet articles in these pages for you to fritter away your idle hours. I hope you enjoy it, and please send me any feedback or suggestions about what you'd like to see herein through the feedback link at the bottom of posts.

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Now, what's on the bill of fare today?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Il Solito Posto

Basement, 113 Collins St (*entry George Parade)
Melbourne VIC 3000

Il Solito Posto - "the usual place". Located down an alleyway between Collins St and Flinders Lane beside 101 Collins St, it's directly across from Italy I and Jamie Oliver's concept restaurant Fifteen. On one of my many visits there, we managed to get in through the barriers of the G8 summit by telling them we were popping in for something to eat. Great security!

Little has changed since the very first time I stumbled in out of the rain, alone and hungry (a different occassion to the G8 Summit). They gave me a table next to a book shelf where I took down a ripped version of 'Vintage Stuff' by Tom Sharpe. I'd never read Sharpe before (also the author of 'Wilt') and before I knew it I was enjoying myself immensly - wine, pasta and great reading entertainment. Il Solito Posto has since become one of my favourite places to eat alone, which I did quite recently and realised it was about time I gave it a mention in my blog.

Checking out their website, I see they now describe themselves as "ENOTECA, CAFFETERIA, TRATTORIA" - which would really get up some of my friends' noses as being overly pretentious. It's trendy to throw around Italian words in gastronomic marketing these days, but the place does have a genuinely Italian feel.

Forget about a date or dinner for a large group. The place is a crowded narrow room which faces a bar teaming with convivial staff who will, none the less, see all of your romantic dinner disaters or fail to juggle enough to all of your party. Take a seat alone at the bar however, and talk to cheery staff who all have a nose for a good drop and don't mind entertaining.

The wine list is impressive. The food menu fits on two pages, the wine runs to around a dozen. A wide range of varieities and nationalities, you camn get lost in it. Take the easy way and ask what they'd recommend. There's always something that's a hit at the time.

It's strange. The place should look as threadbare as an old couch with the amount of use it gets and the length of time it's been there - and how little it's changed - but I guess someone must give it a lick of paint every few months.

Wine, pasta and the joy of solo dining. I give it six tentacles out of eight!

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