I am happy to declare the discovery of an unpolished gem on the popular stretch of Lygon St which I actively avoid and don’t hide my distaste for. I don’t know when Svago Ristorante came into existence but I must have walked by many a time without giving it a glance of attention. It is certainly not bustling with customers waiting to be seated, and just as well since they only have one waiter working the floor on a Saturday evening. However, that is not to say it is void of patrons as most of the tables are comfortably seated with diners.
Admittedly, I was searching for a dinner restaurant on Lygon St, and I had turned to the trusty urbanspoon website. And while I continue to have reservations about the accuracy of the rating scale, I decided to take a chance on Svago given the generous 96% rating from 200+ votes. That’s not too bad really.
The small restaurant has about 10 tables inside furnished with white table cloths, good shiny cutlery and good sized wine glasses. It is BYO with a $4 per person charge, extremely favourable to the customer! Entrees are uncer $20, while mains range $25 – 35. The menu splits the pastas and fish/meat mains, but I have to say it is rather limited on side dishes which number a glorious two. That said, the orange fennel and rocket salad is only $8 and feeds six, while the beans/purple carrots are $7 and is sufficient for two. The salad is underdressed, and there could have been more orange slices provided which were hidden under the plentiful green leaves like a forest floor.
The entree portions were curiously imbalanced. The Canadian scallops were distractingly little on my large plate and there were just so much white glare reflecting into my eyes. I thought the scallops were a touch overcooked, the panchetta flavour was not salty enough to provide a sea-side lift to the dish but the sweet potato puree offered a nice complementary flavour. The calamari wasn’t chilli’d at all, certainly not enough to even tickle my taste buds. However, two sizable handfuls of lightly fried calamari was a pleasant surprise to start the meal.
I have to say that the size of the mains are simply whopping. I certainly didn’t expect to be so full are navigating my way through a tender well-prepared lamb loin and the aged eye fillet the size of my palm. The beef fillet was a touch over the raw that I requested but the colour was still a lovely red and it had sufficient juice and texture to keep me happy. The mash that accompanied my fillet was a letdown though because it was too cluggy and dry. The caramelised onions were a nice touch with the rich jus.
Overall, Svago offers value-for-money dishes at the higher price bracket for Lygon St. The atmosphere of the restaurant is casual and relaxing. The cooking is good, and some effort has been made into the presentation of the dishes. The salmon steak and homemade spaghetti with seafood in Salsa Verde sauce look appealing too. I would not hesitate to recommend Svago to others.
And thanks to Lars from Berlin, our very friendly waiter.