Can you drag yourself away from Collingwood’s rustic European eatery?
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It would be only too easy to let a day slip by in Cavellero. The flexible and well-established Smith Street café/bar/restaurant does everything from morning coffee to midnight cocktails, and with the right company it’s not hard to imagine letting brunch lead to lunch, then to dinner, then to heart failure on receipt of the bill. Acquaintance with the well considered wine list would soften the blow somewhat, but perhaps it’s best to set a watch on the table before settling in.
A high-ceilinged former shopfront stripped back to elegant basics, it feels remarkably spacious for its actual size. A few carefully selected decorative touches offset the clean white walls, including a handsome stag’s head overlooking the bar, and the glass frontage with its distinctive iron grillwork across the door provides some of the best people-watching opportunities on the strip. Visually, it’s an oasis of calm in the colourful and often hectic midst of Smith Street, but it’s a rare day or night when Cavallero isn’t busy.
It fairly heaves at breakfast most weekends, holds steady through the afternoon, then come sundown the lights are flatteringly dimmed for dinner and drinks. The menu changes seasonally - highlights of the winter menu include fat pillows of pan-fried handmade gnocchi in a walnut sauce and cauliflower fritters, cavolo nero and poached egg with burnt onion yoghurt.
On our visit the soup is a beautifully balanced mushroom, leek and watercress, the perfect antidote for a miserable wind-lashed night. For your own good, try to keep half an eye on the clock. Una Cruikshank