I am not going to lie… I can be a bit of a snob. As far as I was concerned, the idea of ‘American’ cuisine was essentially taking something good and injecting it with sugar, salt and that orange stuff that seems to pass as cheese followed by deep frying it and serving it with ranch dressing on the side. What is with American food and ranch dressing!?
But then there is Spaghetti Western, the new three-level restaurant on King William Street serving a fusion of Italian and American cuisine. I didn’t know what to expect, not only due to my pre-conceived ideas of American food but also because the venue was previously a bank. Entering the space is cosy and inviting; exposed brick adds warmth and the pop of neon lighting accent adds flair. The bar at the entrance is decorated with bull’s eyes and a mechanical ducks feature (like those in a showtime shooting galley) draws the eye upwards, making the space feel bigger. The fact that this restaurant is 3 levels is not obvious, with each level feeling separate and intimate. Long tables indicate that this is a place to dine with friends.
We were greeted with starters: eggplant fries and sardines on ciabatta with cherry tomato and parsley, and despite initial reservations, both were incredibly tasty and well executed. The eggplant was unbelievably crunchy and laced with sharp yet creamy Parmesan and the sardines were fresh, flaky and so lightly dressed in a subtle olive oil that the natural oiliness of the fish was able to shine though.
House wine was distributed to the guests in water glasses (very Italian) and a choice of Shiraz or Sauvignon Blanc was offered. The wines were not to my taste per say. The shiraz was blow-your-head-off-with-flavour type that your dad probably likes and the Sauvignon Blanc was that tell-tale passionfruit and acid that your mum likes so I was sticking to the session ale on tap. After the sardine perfection I didn’t want anything dulling my palate.
After a tour of the whole venue and an espresso martini aperitif, we were ready to eat and eat we did. Pillowy gnocci with earthy forest mushrooms, eggplant lasagne that tasted like it was straight out of a nonna’s cookbook and chicken piccata with a good hit of salty caper and creamy cheese. Personal favourite was the snapper with fresh basil pesto, cauliflower, cannellini and green beans. The snapper was pan fried to perfection with just the right amount of lemon tang. To finish was a traditional looking tiramisu hiding an American kick that I can approve of: honey bourbon. This place is worth the visit just for this dish alone!
Spaghetti Western is more than just the novelty it’s namesake suggests. It is more akin to a take on modern Italian rather than a confusing hybrid, which is often not executed well. It is taking family recipes and re-vamping for a youthful palate without losing sight of the need for quality ingredients. With no ranch dressing in sight, Spaghetti Western ticks our boxes!