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Ode to The Plate


After writing numerous profiles of Darwin restaurants for, I wrote this spoof. My editor was highly amused. As she said, there are only so many words for 'delicious'.

Here's the behind-the-scenes version of our visit to SkyCity's flash new Il Piatto (The Plate) in 2008.


Once upon a rainy Darwin evening three lovely ladies under umbrellas turned up at the casino, plunged through the smoky depths of the pokie parlours, and into the new Italian restaurant where the sight of numerous large orgasmatrons affixed to the ceiling had them wondering what was on the menu…


Photo © Il Piatto SkyCity 2008

After seating the three lovely ladies at their table with white napkins and long wine lists, the very charming staff left them gazing at a plethora of implements, wondering which might be used for which morsel, and if this was a test of gourmet expertise. Were they under observation?



The kindly head chef made an appearance, bowed to the restaurant review queen and her acolytes, and alarmed them further by describing the appetisers he had specially designed to ensure a glowing review on Presented on frosted glass trenchers in faux medieval fashion, these were attractive but mystifying, with a spoonful of unusual looking gravy and a diminutive sundae. Hm.



The ladies embarked on their entreé in true medieval fashion (with fingers), and tried not to giggle in an unseemly manner. Fortunately the strange gravy, which is to say, the 25-year-old-balsamic-vinegar-reduction-with-rock-salt, came in a spoon, resolving the question of which implement should be used to eat it.

But as soon as the lovely ladies put the appetisers to their lips, all doubts evaporated in an ecstasy of sensation. The oak bark with small caterpillar eggs (?) was delicate and delectable, and obviously very healthy. The charming staff explained that it was 'like' caviar, although not the genuine marine article. It was not caterpillar eggs either.



The diminutive but elegant sundae (homemade-ver-jus-sorbet) looked a trifle aggressive with its punk toffee mohawk but was underneath as sweet as sugar. Undaunted, the RR queen crunched her way inelegantly through the spiky fixture.

Then the head chef Sir Paolo prepared yet another platter of Romanesque delights in aid of his glowing review – a trio of breads handmade with organic and wholemeal Italian flours, extra virgin olive oil with a flotilla of rock salt, more ancient but heavenly gravy, and a bowl of entirely organic olives.



The delightful assistant manager assured the lovely ladies that the breads, being baked according to authentic Italian recipes, taste and feel like the real thing, not that soft cottonwool stuff in Australian supermarkets. The RR queen and her ladies in waiting eagerly tasted the Sicilian, Tuscan and sourdough varieties, dunking them in virgin olive and prehistoric balsamic juices. The Tuscan was a little rough on the dentures. The Sicilian was smooth and white and quite acceptable to feeble Australian palates.

The three lovely ladies had yet to lay eyes on the silver dinner menu. Before they could do so, the assistant fairy godmother manifested offering free slivers of joselito, a ham cured for donkeys' years from Spanish black pigs fed entirely on nuts and cosseted into submission. The lovely ladies assented quickly on hearing the price – $1000 per kilogram. It looked a little raw to the RR queen but she ate it.



The ladies finally seized the silver dinner menus, even though they were already full.

This is what they ate.


Side salad.




Handmade-spaghetti-with-clams. This required special clam-extracting implements.

The acolytes had wine to resuscitate their nerves but the RR queen stuck to water.

There were strange black items on the clam spaghetti which might have been kelp.



Pampered and fed into a state of exhaustion, the RR queen and her ladies were presented with longstemmed glasses of palate cleansing lemon sorbet, in vodka, which the RR queen swallowed despite her wine allergy. She did not go into anaphylactic shock.



After which, the ladies, cleansed and refreshed, submitted to degustation dessert platters.

The RR queen is now too exhausted to describe any more but this is her favourite pudding decoration: a mini toffee spoon embedded with hazelnut.