UPDATE FEBRUARY 8, 2017: ACME is launching brunch from Saturday, February 18. Between 11am and 2.30pm, the Asian-influenced brunch will be a $50 set menu, featuring three main courses and a sweet dessert to finish.
Alright folks, listen up: Acme ain't no ordinary Italian bro-down. Let's start with the acronym: A(ndy) Emerson, C(am) Fairbairn, M(itchell) Orr, E(d) Loveday. Just four like-minded hospo blokes delivering simple Italian fare, right? Wrong. The thing is, you see, Acme is challenging traditional, nonna-proof ideals of how the cuisine should be executed. And they're doing it in slick surrounds, too. No complaints here.
Large windows line Acme's front; white-wash, rind-like walls abound. High-top round tables are clustered together up front, while share tables are tucked away up back. The lighting's warm, music loud and ambience fitting for Le Rushcutters Bay.
The small, but complex menu offers seven entrees, two salads, and seven mains (sans desserts of course). We started with a tipple of NV Perlage Quorum Prosecco ($12 glass), followed by a couple of snacks. Next up were rockmelon and prosciutto ($6 for two pieces) and beef tartare, walnut and witlof ($20) entrees. Woah. Don't expect your average slice of juicy rockmelon wrapped in smooth cured meat. Acme's variation on a classic delivers solid, cold chunks of the fruit crumbed in a thick layer of what seems to be dried, crushed prosciutto. Not a fan, I must admit.
The tartare on the other hand was bonafide juicy, but it didn't help that when asked, our particular waitress wasn't able to tell us what witlof was. For the uninitiated, witlof is simply a variety of salad green that can be eaten raw or cooked. Evidently "it's from a tree … it's a plant" wasn't quite right.
Mains came in the form of a mushroom and sheeps' curd lasagna ($20), squid ink strozzapreti with octopus and chrysanthemum ($24) and macaroni with pigs head and yolk ($18). Bangin' about the pans out back is chef Mitch Orr (formerly of Buzo Trattoria and 121 BC), who's certainly tried on complexity for size. At approximately 70 grams per portion, Acme's mains aren't cheap, but they are inventive.
The standout dish was the mac and pigs head; the intense saltiness of the meat offset the subtle cheesy tang to deliver a well-balanced flavour combo. Highly commended goes to the pesto-oiled deconstructed lasagna, which comprised al dente pasta with shiitake and enoki mushrooms atop. To wash all this down was an earthy Loire Valley La Paonnerie ($84 bottle). Yes please.
And then came dessert. Six words: nashi pear sorbet with rosemary meringue ($10).This baby had all the marks of hat-worthy noms. Melt-in-your-mouth sorbet that actually tasted like real fruit, and crunchy meringue that had all the pop and crunch a legit sweet tooth craves. Bang on, team. Bang on.
So boys, a big congrats. With maturity, Acme's sure to flourish, which is why we'll be back for more.
Images: Steve Woodburn.