Cafe Brunelli


date of visit: Thursday 12 September 2013

The thing I learnt yesterday was to not meet Andy directly after work without having a definite action plan. As we stood in the office foyer trying to decide where to go to dinner he became grumpier and less helpful by the minute. I’d suggest somewhere and he’d say no. No alternative would be offered, just ‘no’.

So after some faff, and an attempt to eat in a hotel restaurant that didn’t start serving until 6 (too late with the toddler in tow), we ended up at Café Brunelli on Rundle Street. It’s the massive café next to the carpark at the Pulteney Street end. You can’t miss it.

Andy was still looking grumpy. “They’d better be able to serve quickly”, he muttered. Despite it being very early (before 5:30pm) I’d hazard a guess and say that Brunelli’s was about 10-20% full. The tables are reasonably tightly packed in and it’s all very casual. You wander in, grab a table, grab a high chair (should you need one), grab some menus and when you’re ready, you wander up to the kitchen to order.

The front of the café is dominated by a HUGE cabinet of cakes, biscuits and chocolates. I have no idea what they’re like but they look tempting enough to make you want to skip a ‘real’ meal and just do cake and coffee.

The menu is a pretty standard Italian café menu. The toddler became hugely animated at the prospect of meatballs, so polpette in umedo was duly chosen for him. For speed, I chose the gnocchi Roma: gnocchi with a tomato, bocconcini and basil sauce (a simple, but boy, do you have nowhere to hide dish), and Andy the salsicce pizza. With drinks (a humour rescuing Boags for Andy and a glass of Annie’s Lane Riesling for me), and after Entertainment Card discount, the meal cost $55*.

After ordering and paying at the kitchen, I collected our drinks from the bar. I was a little concerned when I saw how little Riesling was left in the bottle and I was right. The bottle had obviously been open for a day or two longer than it should which is disappointing. While I commend Café Brunelli for a very impressive list of wines by the glass (almost everything, it seemed!) if the turnover is not such that the wines can be kept fresh, don’t do it!

The food arrived super quickly. The toddler’s entrée size meatballs consisted of two huge meatballs in a tomato sauce. He was extremely pleased with this, even more so when he learnt that it wasn’t one for him and one for daddy but that they were both for him. Both meatball and tomato sauce appeared to hit the spot but he was unimpressed by the rocket and the fact that it was served with thick chunks of toast (they had to be removed very quickly). It was a ridiculously large portion: had I ordered it there would have been no way I could ever have eaten anything else.

Andy’s pizza looked really good: the base was thin and crispy (I could tell that from the other side of the table) and he said he quite liked the toppings. His complaint was that the tomato sauce had been used a little too heavy handedly. This meant that the pizza sat firmly in the middle of the pizza awesomeness spectrum.

My gnocchi was very ho-hum indeed. The gnocchi themselves were small and light but the sauce was pointless. It was a mix of overly sweet tomato and tomato that had not been cooked out enough. The basil had been cooked too much and turned a little bitter. Had some freshly torn basil been added just before serving that could have made all the difference. As it was, the basil looked scary and didn’t taste good at all. I really liked the addition of torn chunks of bocconcini to the sauce but as a dish it was utterly underwhelming.

If you are in town and looking for a quick meal then Café Brunelli can fulfil that need. Depending on how you choose, you can eat for a reasonable price – but just set your expectations accordingly.

Café Brunelli
187 Rundle Street
Adelaide SA 5000
phone: 8223 2221

* Without Entertainment Card, it was just over $70.

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