The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is probably my favourite food festival of the year! With so many one off events, long lunches and special lunch deals, there is something going on everyday during the two week festival. This year we got a group together and booked the ‘Crawl ‘n’ Bite’ event, which included the popular Sarti, MoVida Next Door and Izakya Den. The event sells out within days of going on sale, so you need to be quick to purchase tickets.
We started the night at Sarti, which is one of my favourite Italian laneway restaurants. It was a beautiful night so the restaurant had booked the group out on the rooftop area to enjoy the perfect weather. The staff had set up several tables outside for us to use while we enjoyed the canapés and specialty cocktail that we were served to start the night.
Upon arrival, we were handed a watermelon & lime cocktail, which had just the right amount of alcohol and was delightfully refreshing. Great way to start the night! The first dish to come around was the ‘Mozzarella Roll’ with cured ocean trout, avocado and chilli paper.
We were then served their signature pasta dish ‘Duck Roll Pasta’ with field mushrooms. Talk about an amazing dish! I can see why this is so popular. The flavours work incredibly well together and the pasta was cooked to perfection. To finish we had a homemade ‘Lemon Tart’ with Italian meringue. This was the only restaurant we got to enjoy a dessert at, and it was divine!
MOVIDA NEXT DOOR
After our 30 minutes were up at Sarti, the group made their way to MoVida Next Door. Located down the notorious graffiti laneway, we were greeted with friendly smiles from the staff. This is a much smaller restaurant, which seats maybe 40 people on long wooden high top tables. White sangria was poured on our arrival, which required light sipping as it was a bit on the strong side.
They presented their food differently than the other two restaurants. Instead of bringing the food out separately, they created a beautiful presentation of three small items all on one dish. They had a tasty arancini ball topped with a homemade aioli, a scallop which sat on black squid ink, and finally a thin bread crustini with anchovies. I passed on the anchovies as it’s not one of my favourites, however the other two items were quite tasty.
I unfortunately found presentation to be better than taste here.
Our final stop of the night was Izakaya Den. If we weren’t with a group of people, I don’t think I would have been able to find this restaurant. It was very difficult to find, with an almost impossible sign to read from far away. However once we made our way downstairs, we entered a beautiful long restaurant with an open kitchen area.
The restaurant layout is a bit different, where long bench couches are available along the wall as you enter, hightop bar tables once you move past the couches and then finally bar seating, which is where you can watch your food being prepared. They have definitely created a great layout with the space they have available.
We had a lovely waiter who looked after our group, which I believe was the manager. He made sure everyone got each of the 3 dishes that came around, plus an endless top up of their house sake.
Our first dish to come out was a ‘Salmon Sashimi’, which unfortunately I had to pass on (since I’m not a seafood eater). However the next dish of ‘Tampura Corn’ was to die for. I probably could have just eaten this all night and would have been happy. The combination of sweet and savoury in this dish were fantastic!
Overall, this is such an amazing event that the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival host each year. They have a variety of different restaurants that participate in the event over the two weeks. Next year, I might try to partake in a few other crawl ‘n’ bite events since it’s a great way to sample different restaurants all in one night.