I worked in Neutral Bay back in the day so I used to know the area quite well. But boy has it changed over the past 6 years. There are only a handful of shops that I recognise from back then. One theme has held true over the years, though, and that’s the abundance of restaurants and cafe’s adorning Military Road. I used to be spoilt for choice even back then, but now, almost every second shopfront is a restaurant or cafe. Watch out Crows Nest!
Anyway, enough reminiscing, back to the review of Restaurant 16. This little casual Italian restaurant is located towards the Cremorne end of Military Rd in Neutral Bay. From the outside the restaurant looks fairly standard and could very easily be overlooked. That’s if you ignore the fact that the restaurant is almost always full of happy diners. As was the case on our first visit, where without a reservation, we were regrettably turned down.
Hard lesson to learn because we really wanted to dine there that night. Oh well, fast forward one week and we walked into the restaurant for a second time. And lo and behold, once again we had forgotten to make a reservation (shame on us!). Thankfully a couple had just finished their dinner and after a short wait, we were given their table. This table was right near the entrance and against the wall that housed the menu, so the waitress kindly brought us the alternative menu on small blackboards and ran through them with us. Shortly after this, the table across the room was free, so it was offered to us much to our delight.
Now we had a clear view of the entire menu, which I have to warn you, is really hard to choose from because almost every item on it sounds delicious! We really struggled to make up our minds, but in the end we ordered the following dishes – which the chef kindly divided into two plates because we wanted to share.
Although a little on the small side, the Bruschetta was nonetheless delicious. A generous portion of olive oil was drizzled over the fresh tomato and basil – which I love.
Panfried Scallops ($24)
This dish really surprised me. When I read ‘Panfried Scallops’ I wasn’t expecting a dish with such impeccable presentation. It quite literally looked like a work of art. Beautiful! And the taste? Well let’s just say it matched the presentation.
Linguine with scampi, white wine sauce, cherry tomato, chili and garlic ($33)
Ah linguine… probably my favourite type of pasta. This was cooked perfectly to my liking. Al dente but only slightly on the softer side. The white wine sauce was full of flavour and combined with the fresh pieces of scampi meat, was a delight to eat. Oh and don’t be fooled by size of the serving. Remember, we asked to share so both the mains were divided onto two plates for us.
Spatchcock stuffed with mixed mushroom risotto ($30)
I love spatchcock and I love well cooked risotto, so how could I not select this from the menu? :) Once we received this dish (again divided onto two plates) the waiter informed us with a smile that this was his favourite dish from the menu. After a few bites I could see why that was the case. The combination of the mushroom risotto inside the beautifully cooked spatchcock was exquisite.
Chocolate mousse with berries ($12)
My colleague, being female, naturally had to select the chocolate desert option. She kept it all to herself, however, I did steal a bite and found the cake to be really rich and beautifully creamy. The berries also were a great addition and went well with the dark chocolate mousse.
Me being me, I just couldn’t resist the affogato. Unlike most, I prefer mine without the liqueur. Not because I don’t like alcohol, but because I don’t want the strong coffee flavour to be diluted by the liqueur. On this occasion I found the affogato to have a great taste, but just needed a touch more espresso.
After the initial let down (completely our fault), I was very happy we went back to Restaurant 16. Despite the anticipation I had built up after our first visit, Restaurant 16 didn’t let me down one bit. All the dishes were incredibly delicious and the service, wow! This is how all restaurants should be. All the waiters were genuinely friendly, always eager to help in every which way they could. And to top it all off, the Head Chef (Toru Ryu – who used to work at the Two Hat restaurant, Buon Ricordo) came out after our meals and had good old chat to us. What a way to finish of an excellent dining experience!