Chef Grant van der Riet’s new menu at the fine dining and elegant Luce Restaurant at Southern Sun Hyde Park takes Italian cuisine “back to basics” with uncomplicated but delicious flavours “that are put in where they belong” into traditional dishes that feature careful attention to detail, allowing the different ingredients to come alive.
Chef Grant’s love of Italian cuisine was sparked at the Prue Leith Chefs Academy under an Italian chef and expanded as he worked in kitchens under chefs who inspired him to cook Italian dishes as the Italians do. He says, “It’s the originality of Italian cuisine that is so appealing. The country-style cooking, and the breads – their flavour and texture.” The Luce bread selection, which includes various focaccias and a knotted basil pesto bread, will continue to evolve, with exciting new options on the horizon.
The new starters on the Luce menu include Caprese – Baked bocconcini and cocktail heirloom tomatoes served with basil snow and balsamic pearls; Gamberi alla busara – Grilled garlic butter prawns with a hint of chilli, with basil labne, a tian of paw-paw and avocado; Venison carpaccio with shaved pecorino, aioli and pickled quail egg with truffle snow; and others.
The signature dishes say it all. Lobster tortellini with portobello mushroom and prosecco cream sauce, which Chef Grant describes as “absolutely fantastic”. But it’s the skill in ensuring that the tortellini is perfectly created, with the right-sized hole and the right folds that make a real difference to the dish. Another favourite is Chef Grant’s Anatra al caffè, Coffee-cured duck leg served with pan seared duck breast and homemade egg ravioli with wilted baby spinach and coffee duck jus. “I love duck, and I wanted to create a dish that would bring out the best of the game-meat flavours of the duck, and embrace traditional Italian cooking.” The soups also include a signature dish, Pappa al Pomodoro – Wood smoked tomato and pepper soup with celery ribbon confit garlic and burnt onion dust.
Special on the salad menu is Insalata tricolore – Marinated tomatoes served with freshly sliced avocado, burrata cheese – a delicious and traditional fresh Italian buffalo mozzarella imported by Luce – and baby spinach and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.
The pasta selection, the primi piatti, includes only homemade pasta, made to Chef Grant’s exacting standards and incorporating fillings that are “more exciting than the normal” he says. The dishes include Spaghetti Vongole – with sautéed clam meat and whole clams; Three cheese and herb ravioli cooked in a creamy Napolitano sauce; Slow braised oxtail in a rich red wine and rosemary sauce deboned with home-made pappardelle; Tortellini di spinach – Spinach tortellini cooked in a Napolitano sauce; Tagliatelle al pesto cremoso – Tagliatelle cooked in a creamy basil pesto sauce topped with deep fried bocconcini; and for seafood aficionados, Risotto ai frutti di mare – Creamy tomato risotto cooked with white wine with pan-fried mussels, whole clams, a seared scallop and calamari.
Fish options include Poached Norwegian salmon in tomato consommé with deconstructed puttanesca and Japanese furikake, and Pan-fried barramundi with fondant potato, asparagus, and portobello mushroom and clam velouté.
The meat menu includes the signature duck dish, as well as several popular Italian dishes but with more than a touch of the traditional Italian way, and include Veal osso bucco Milanese, Grilled lamb cutlets; Lamb shank cooked in a rich red wine and robust herb jus; Lemon, thyme & chilli roasted baby chicken; and Grilled beef fillet or T-bone with roasted bone marrow and pan-fried polenta.
Desserts are deliciously ‘dolce’ and include Chocolatissimo – Soft chocolate soufflé with a melted chocolate centre served with vanilla ice-cream, shortbread crumble and fresh berries; Dark chocolate and passion fruit tart, Tiramisu classico, Cannoli, Pistachio panna cotta; and a cheese platter.
Luce’s guests tend to be experienced foodies, and already Chef Grant is seeing real appreciation and enjoyment of his traditional Italian cuisine with more than a touch of sophistication, who enjoy everything about the experience – the menu options, the amazing view, the excellent wine cellar and wine pairings, and the elegant ambience. “I will continue to focus on fresh flavours and good service, always building on Southern Sun Hyde Park’s excellent reputation.”
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