Usually when we go out on date nights, Mr. C and I would more than often return to places that we enjoy eating at, I mean, that’s a pretty normal thing to do for everyone I guess. But then sometimes, the places we love tend to either change ownership, which can mean a change in concept as well as menu. Sometimes this works in their favour but at times they don’t and on this week’s Monday Eats I’ll share with you two places that have done just that.
Capitano is located on 101 Collins Street, where the offices are making it the perfect spot for business lunches. It used to be known as The Italian Restaurant and Bar, but sat closer to what I would call fine dining. We used to head there for some fine Italian food and on special occasions with the kids. The kids called it the “posh” place. Trust me it wasn’t THAT posh, it was acceptable I guess. The service was friendly and it used to be packed with diners. They didn’t have a huge menu but had some of our favourites on there with simple dishes like croquette (the ingredients changed each time depending what they had that day), hand cut chips and one of Mr. C’s favourite pasta dishes; crab and chilli spaghettini.
New Concept & Decor
The concept at Capitano is supposedly more laid back, complete with an outdoor beer garden. It now serves breakfast and in place of the hand-cut chips they now have shoestring fries. Even the decor has changed to include this HUGE spray painted mural of a redhead on one of their walls and some newspaper cutouts decorating the sides of the panels. I thought it made the place look a bit tacky to be honest. Nevertheless, we thought, let’s see how the quality of their food would fare.
The Menu & Quality of Food
The night we went there was disturbingly quiet. It was a Saturday night and including us there were about two other tables occupied. The service was still attentive, warm and friendly. The menu was different as I’ve mentioned above but thankfully the quality of the food was still impeccable. The prices for their mains stayed the same, around the mid $20 mark for their pastas and mid to high $30 mark for their other mains. But the atmosphere just wasn’t the same as before.
Will I go back there again? Probably yes as their pastas were still top notch as were their salumi board, but it would be great to have them bring back the hand-cut chips instead of shoe string fries and the croquettes back on their entree menu. Maybe they should have had the mural on the outside, in the beer garden instead and kept the restaurant with clean lines and forget about those ugly newspaper cutouts altogether? I wonder if it was only that night where it happened to be quiet or if it has been that way for a while now? I say bring back the old menu for the restaurant and have the ones of the cafe and beer garden just for that.
I reviewed this place two years ago, when we first tried it out and we have frequented the place a few more times until they moved to a different location. Now, Mr. Huang Jin is located at The Archway, on Flinders Lane, a space that is less than half the size it used to be in. Maybe the previous place was too big and they weren’t reaping in as much profit as they would have liked? Who knows, and for whatever reason, I didn’t really mind the new location, albeit it being a little bit smaller.
The Menu & The Quality
The service was still good, but like Capitano, there were a few changes made. They still had their gorgeous homemade dumplings, with our favourite being the steamed chilli dumplings and there were still the Taiwanese tapas dishes but there were a few dishes that were missing.
They didn’t have the soft shell crab with sticky rice, nor did they have the pungent fried tofu; again, two of our favourite dishes. Yes, I know the restaurant wasn’t set up to serve just OUR favourite dishes, but it was sad to see these two well-loved dishes be left off the menu. Thankfully the quality of their food was still the same, which means we will be coming back when we feel like some expensive handmade dumplings, or we could always head out to Box Hill and eat at Food Repbulik, which has a larger repertoire of Taiwanese hawker style food at lower prices.
Have you been to either of the restaurants I’ve mentioned before and after the refurbishments? What were your experiences like? Which did you prefer? The old or the new? Has your favourite restaurant changed too?