Super summer menu – with snails – at Societi Bistro

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SORRY not sorry for the headline; sometimes alliteration gets the better of me. Yes, there are snails on the menu. No, they won’t make you squeamish. They are finely diced and cunningly hidden inside gnocchi browned in the pan, which is served with minted peas and smoky pancetta, all liberally doused with grated parmesan at the table.

I took a lovely pic of that but I’m saving it for Instagram.

Suzy Disco Pants, her hilarious husband who seems to think his tenacity of purpose (ie nagging) will eventually win me over to go to Afrika Burn ha ha, and I were treated to a tasting of all the new dishes on the spring (which it technically still is) and summer menu. Regulars can be assured all the classic favourites are still there – mushroom risotto, Caesar salad, Fillet au Poivre and vegan Thai curry which has been there as long as I can remember and yet I’ve never had it.

Joining the garlic snail gnocchi under starters are several new pasta dishes (double up if you want more). I loved the spaghetti blackened with squid ink, tossed with prawns and chorizo, seasoned with sage and basil, and finished with grana Padano and a pea shoot (above). The fettuccine with chicken and leek was not a winner for me, mainly because I feel about chicken with pasta the way Italians feel about pineapple on pizza. It’s just not the right anything – flavour or texture. Not a thing wrong with it but rather give me the Societi Cacio E Pepe: spaghetti, tossed with Grana Padano, green, black and white pepper, finished with Grana Padano. This is a popular taste trend at the moment (based on my unscientific research of having encountered it three times in the past month or so therefore it must be in) and celebrates the simplicity and deliciousness of what Italians do with a handful of ingredients.

Cacio e Pepe, photo supplied

The non-pasta starter we sampled was grilled Patagonian squid tubes on oven roasted tomato with crispy tentacles on a grilled pineapple wheel, finished with an avo, caper and anchovy salsa. I tried to take a pic but wasn’t happy with any of the results. 

The two main main courses to be highlighted are the slow braised lamb neck and the Kassler pork cutlet. Kassler chops are already salted and smoked, which is what makes them Kassler. Then Societi Bistro takes them and submerges them in duck fat and pork to confit them overnight for 12 hours. They’re cooked to order so you need to allow half an hour for the kitchen to work their final magic. The result is juicy and succulent, and the fat is beautifully rendered for a crispy, crunchy border and finished in the oven. The dish is served with a roasted potato Mediterranean salad (wilt that lettuce!) and finished with a fresh and zingy green salsa. I mean, just look at the photograph. Is that not something you want to order right away?

A very large Kassler chop

Like the pork, the slow braised lamb neck is a rich meaty dish which is balanced with the freshness of salad, in this case a minted panzanella with fresh and roasted tomatoes, celery and croutons. The portion is 500g; ours was a bit bigger for the three of us. It was so good, all dark and sticky and fatty, something which some people would describe as unctuous, which is not at all the right word to describe food but in its erring can be understood. It’s so fortunate to have a friend like Suzy Disco Pants because she is delighted to finish all the food when the rest of us are too full. Where she puts it in her gorgeous figure is anyone’s guess.

Slow braised lamb neck

I’m delighted to report the desserts are all as they should be: the decadent trinity of Chocolate Nemesis, Baked Cheesecake and Lemon Tart remain, hopefully for eternity. Scoops of gelato are available too, with flavours changing daily.

Societi Bistro has weathered some storms, of which you may or may not be aware, but as we head into the first real summer season since 2019, this is the right time to spend a leisurely afternoon or balmy evening at an outside table with something from the new menu…or an old, tried and trusted favourite. Which is what Societi is to me.

For more information, click here.

PHOTO CREDIT: Bianca Coleman ©

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