I have heard quite a bit of talk regarding The Messy Tomato, the new identity to the former Luigi’s Delicatessen. With an impressive street presence on Flinders Street I was a little taken aback by the few tables that sit in what is essentially an office building foyer. Weather permitting it would be lovely sitting under one of the street side umbrellas and watching the world go by, but on this occasion we pulled up a couple of low stools by the window and were treated to an epic brunch filled with flavour and love.
As all days should, we started off with breakfast; first digging into a cast iron skillet filled with a heartwarming medley of Messy Beans in a rich tomato and garlic sauce. The tender beans play beautifully with the pecorino crumb, which brings a nice texture and delicious cheesy hit. Perfection on their own, but they are served with buttered toast and topped with slices of smoky Spanish Chorizo for an extra indulgence.
Chances are if there are corn fritters on a menu, it’s a safe bet they will be my order. Here the Verdura; zucchini and roasted corn and fritters are topped with two gloriously runny poached eggs and wilted spinach. The flavour of zucchini in the fritters is prominent in the fritters with undertones of herbs and spring onion. They are served with two delightful condiments; Danish feta mixed with house tomato chutney packed with spices including star anise, fennel and cinnamon; the liquorish flavour unmistakable, and a beetroot tahine that oozes an umami sesame earthiness.
Okay, now time for the show-stopper; Brioche Francese with the thickest slab of brioche I have ever seen, beautifully adorned with fresh seasonal fruits, in this case berries, grapes and rhubarb. The lightly stewed fruit retains a little sharpness in order to withstand the sweetness from the obligatory maple syrup and the texture of the brioche is light and airy to not fall into the trap of being too dense to stomach- a failing of many French Toasts. Finished with piped whipped ricotta and a sprinkling of desiccated coconut. If you lean more towards a savoury breakfast – do yourself a favour and split one of these as dessert.
The Messy Tomato serve up some killer pasta dishes. To start we loved the Paccheri pasta, rustic large pasta tubes, cooked with plenty of bite, smothered with a tomato, veal and pork ragu that takes hours upon hours to make. The acidity and sweetness in rich meat sauce is balanced and given the hours of love and care the meat is cooked to the point it is shredded and falling apart.
Another favourite from the pasta section was the Granchio, linguine with a rose sauce that is thick and chockful of crab. There is easily enough that every mouthful gets an abundant helping of crab meat. The crab combined with an unusual amount of cream results in a rather sweet style dish that I absolutely adored, and while the hint of chilli wasn’t quite enough for my palate, I’m sure most would find it sufficient.
Sticking with the pasta theme a bowl of glossy Gnocchi is served with slices of Porcini mushrooms. Tossed through a fragrant truffle oil and finished with a scattering of fresh herbs this is one of those simple dishes where use of restraint is required in order to let the delicate taste sensations sing.
We were excited to try a couple of dishes that are brand new to The Messy Tomato and haven’t even made it to the menu yet. First up, a delicious pan fried Salmon with a dukkha crust. A healthy alternative the salmon is paired with blistered cherry tomatoes, steamed asparagus, crispy kale and a chunky style pesto with a lemony zing. A tangy, yet rich hollandaise is poured over the salmon’s crispy skin for a perfect finishing touch.
We finished with the Chicken Roulade, three rounds of chicken thigh wrapped around garlic and herbs, encased in prosciutto and topped with a candy beetroot crisp. A delectable, smooth parsnip puree accompanies rich and buttery fondant potatoes with rainbow carrots cooked in garlic.
We thoroughly enjoyed every dish we tried at The Messy Tomato. The use of quality ingredients by an experienced and skilled chef is evident. But what will make me keep coming back to The Messy Tomato is the love and care that is evident in everything they do. From the presentation and the flavour of the food and the great coffee to an enthusiastic and eager to please front of house team and everything in-between
The Messy Tomato will ensure all your dining needs are met.
Words by Kate Wilkinson
WHERE: 151 Flinders St, Adelaide