Tucked away behind Merivale's ivy is Ash St Cellar. A mixture of Italian tapas, self-proclaimed 'famous' charcuterie, fine wine and an intimate atmosphere, this is a CBD cellar bustling with European charm. Charm you can indulge without debilitating jetlag, that is.
A favourite among the after-work crowd, this chandelier-clad eatery certainly looks impressive. If you can, arrive early and grab a table outside, otherwise, true to its cross-continental allure, inside's a tad cosy. If you're anything like us and have turned up a little too late, however, fear not because this will give you ample time to spy on your neighbours' dishes from Sicilian-born head chef, Alfie Spina's menu before making your choice.
Wine-wise, there's an impressive selection of vino with plenty available by the glass and plenty more available via a small bank loan. We opted for a glass of the Portuguese 2009 Quinta de la Rosa 'Tonnix' Douro Duriense ($11) and an Italian Mauro Molino Barbera d'Alba Piedmont ($13). Both were fruity, full-bodied and more than acceptable to sip before our food arrived.
Warmed Ligurian black olives ($8) were swiftly followed by the selection of four cured meats from the aforementioned charcuterie ($23). Accompanied by bread, sea salt and olive oil, Salchichon Spanish salami, pork lonza (cured pork loin), jamon Serrano and wagyu beef bresaola made up the quartet. The Serrano was the lead by far.
After a brief interval, prawns cooked in chilli and garlic ($19) sounded out the end of the savoury courses with grilled lamb loin chops, sweet potato, young peas and mint ($24). The prawns were delicious but the lamb was almost perfect with just the right amount of mint. For dessert, we couldn't go past the tart of the day ($14). That day it was blueberry and pine nut and it was bang on.
Ash St Cellar is a fine venue for a glass of the good stuff, a nibble or even a five course feast. It's also a venue proving that when you know how to do it right, you can do it right again and again.