From ashes, rises a phoenix?
It had been such a long time since we’d last been to Macchiatos, methinks we haven’t been back since the renovation after the small kitchen fire which closed them down and sparked (both figuratively and literally) the shop’s face-lift? And sitting down, it struck me in how large this place really is (for Sydney CBD standards at least), it’s spacious and airy, but anything it’s not is bright (dim mood lighting).
Throughout the week I was longing to come back to Macchiato, surprisingly able to recall each time we’ve been here – once when we ordered the set-menu for 2 (I think it was only $70) where we received a large bowl of salad, a garlic bread (in the form of a medium sized pizza), 2 plates of pasta, and 2 New York cheese cake slices (that was year 2012); another time when my wife had just returned back to work that week after a brief career break and we had this awesome pizza with a dollop of lemon-y mayo on-top (that was 2013); and the last time it was with colleagues for a team lunch, it was memorable because that year I was working so close to home that our team lunch was closer to home than it was to work (that was also in 2013). So it has been a while since we’ve been back to Macchiatos.
But little remains from the old Macchiato store – the interior feels completely different, the menu is utterly extensive (and expensive), and even the front door has moved streets! Previously opening out onto Pitt Street, but now you enter via Liverpool.
Even up to this morning I had toyed with the idea of ordering another set-menu for two just for old-times-sake (although the first time we were seriously full even after the starters), but no surprise….. A $70 set-menu was no longer on the menu. But also craving Lasagne all week long (we don’t have a working oven so can’t make our own), I naturally ordered that ($25). My wife ordered the Grand woodfire panino ($23), and a Tiramisu milkshake to share ($12).
I was just starting to get a little impatient with the wait time (it was more than 10 minutes but probably less than 15) when the milkshake finally arrived, but literally a minute later our meals also arrived – it was a seemingly long wait for drinks, but a really short wait for food though!
For $12, we had expected something larger (perhaps in an old school milkshake glass)? And we had also expected something thicker and more indulgent? But instead it was in an averaged sized jar mug, it was thin like milk, and just tasted like store-bought flavoured milk- no sign or residue of any tiramisu cake being blitzed into the drink. Boo!
For $25 we had expected a large wedge of Lasagne, but instead we were served a medium narrow slice (bordering on being described as small), but a decent serving of side salad though. The lasagne was creamy, rich, and moreish! But there just wasn’t more to hit the spot. And the salad, perhaps it was just because I happened to get a mouthful of raw onions? But it was so intensely raw onion-y that I had that same feeling of a nose rush when you’ve just consumed too much wasabi! And I was left with the taste of raw onion for hours afterwards. Yuck.
And for $23, the Grand Panino was the only dish which met our expectations, as it was pretty huge! The Panino was crunchy on the outside, but soft and fluffy on the inside; the filling wasn’t that equally distributed though, so within my half I had heaps of rocket and only a thin slither of aged meat, when my wife had too much of the meat and the other corner was just all caramelised onions; and the feeling of fullness from the meal was largely due to the hefty carbs from the Panino. Along with the sandwich, it came with a large serving of hot chips – it was probably the oil it was deep fried in (methinks it hasn’t been changed in a while), but each fry tasted like calamari rings. Which isn’t a problem if your chips taste like seafood when you’re having fish & chips, but a little weird when you’re not.
Our end verdict, 2.5 from 5, which is a below average score (1.5 from 3.0 for Food (everything we had was ok, but after every positive element of a dish I found myself saying ‘but’ as there was always a negative to each dish); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (as the staff were all polite); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (the venue actually reminded me of restaurants in the States, being large and spacious); and 0 from 1.0 for Value for Money (Look, it is expensive to eat out in the city I get that, but $12 for flavoured milk? And $25 for a small serving of Lasagne?)).
In conclusion, Macchiato looks and feels way more up-market now, compared to how it was prior to the fire and subsequent renovations – but we’re simple people and for us the old Macchiato held something special and memorable for us. Today we’d probably remember our lunch at Macchiato for all the wrong reasons, and I’m sure give it a couple of months we’d forget the entire experience. Unlike the previous 3 times (over 6 years ago) where I could recall exactly what we had and what was going on in our lives at the time. Sadly, I can’t see us ever coming back. Yes, from the ashes a more aesthetically appealing Macchiato did re-emerge, but today it just didn’t do it for us.
Macchiato- Saturday 15 June (2.5 Stars).
Ph: (02) 9262 9525
Shop 2 /338 Pitt Street, Sydney
Mon – Fri 7am – 12 midnight
Sat – Sun 8am – 12 midnight