It’s hard not to leave a Scarf dinner without a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Scarf is a social enterprise that borrows restaurants to give front of house hospitality training and mentoring to young people who face barriers to fair training and work opportunities. When I heard that the excellent Union Dining in Richmond was hosting Scarf I decided to round up a group of friends (thanks Soph, Fraze, Em and Nath) and go along.
We ate in the main timber dining room at Union Dining and each table was beautifully set with tiny knitted napkin rings, a fun reference to the name of the dinner. For a scarf dinner $35 buys you a two course meal which includes a set starter and then a choice of three mains. The food is unfussy but well executed by Scarf chef Ricky Holt. It’s less about setting pulses racing than producing big smiles. The starter was a sharing plate of almond dip, some pickled vegetables, figs wrapped in prosciutto and stuffed with goats cheese, a smoked salmon mousse sandwiched in choux pastry and some marinated olives. It was all easy to eat finger food which tided us over while we had a drink and settled in for the evening.
|Sharing plate at Scarf|
Unfortunately by the time we got around to ordering one of the mains was sold out so we had a choice of just roast chicken or a cheese risotto. Roast chicken is a dish I usually don’t bother ordering as I figure it is something I can cook pretty easily at home but Scarf’s version was a step up with a great crisp slightly charred skin. The chicken was plump with a lemony flavour and came served with roasted pumpkin, rocket and a dollops of vibrant green garlic and parsley sauce.
|Roast chicken with rocket and roast pumpkin at Scarf|
The risotto was made with four cheeses and topped with half a slow roasted tomato. It was a sunny yellow colour and incredibly rich and pungent. A dessert plate to share was an additional $7 but the kitchen provided good reason to linger in the form of a crumbly tart topped with a dollop of lemon curd and plump yo yo biscuits. It was not the most perfectly presented dessert I’ve ever seen but certainly delicious.
|Dessert plate at Scarf|
Service from our trainees was a little shy at times but thanks to experienced hospitality mentors everything ran very smoothly and service was actually more responsive and polished than you get in most good restaurants. Our waitress had a particularly winning smile which probably quickly switched to one of relief when we finally left at the end of the night. If you want to go along to a Scarf dinner, the next ones are scheduled for Northcote’s Two by Two from Monday 25 February and running until Monday 25 March. Warm fuzzy feeling after dinner comes guaranteed even if you don’t drink copious amounts of wine.
Details: Scarf dinners pop up at various restaurant locations in Melbourne. Check the Scarf website for details and sign up to the mailing list. The next dinners are at Two by Two in Northcote.
Damage: Reasonable. Two courses are $35.