For an early Christmas celebration, my girlfriend suggested we try out Asana, by Pete Evans, a restaurant in the city with a strictly paleo menu. Now, for someone who loves pizza and thinks dairy and carbs should be properly enjoyed for all of eternity, abandoning my core beliefs for the night felt treacherous.
But then I reasoned that this same friend, who is gluten intolerant, has been dragged along by me to a variety of Italian restaurants, where my love of carbs stems from, so I should quit whining, suck it up and give Asana a go.
And I quite enjoyed it.
The décor is a bit too colourful for me with a vibrant light blue being the focus colour and reminding me of food courts that try to inject cheer into their otherwise rather soulless surroundings. The service was also quite slow with a query as to whether they had Aperol being returned with a blank stare. As a spritz was definitely not going to be on the cards, it seemed safest, both for the waiter’s peace of mind and my own, to instead opt for a Pinot Grigio. Although this blank stare occurred a few times throughout the night, the service was overall friendly and welcoming.
Now for the food.
The menu covers all the basics of any restaurant. There’s nothing that ‘screams’ paleo when you look at it. Sure, the pizzas are all announced as having a 100% spelt flour base but it’s for that very reason that I didn’t look at that side of the menu again. Otherwise, the menu is all rather appealing and there are no preachy elements as to the health benefits of paleo. Asana is focusing on serving restaurant quality food and they do a pretty good job of it.
To start we shared the seed crackers with baba ganoush, tapenade and a duck rillettes. The seed crackers are thick and plentiful and rather filling. The dips are all tasty, with the baba ganoush always being a universal favourite.
The standout dish of the night, for me, was the barramundi with a sweet potato puree and a lime and coconut sauce. The fish was perfectly cooked and flaked deliciously under my fork whilst the crunchy skin was the only thing that required a knife to cut through it. I’m a sucker for sweet potato anything and the puree was smooth and delicious. With fresh lime segments on top of the fish and a rich lime sauce it was refreshing and the perfect introduction to summer.
The slow cooked lamb was a monster of a dish with shredded, flavoursome, melt in your mouth meat piled high and topped with a vibrant pepperonata. The smoked eggplant, whilst delicious, paired with the rich red meat was a bit heavy.
The other dish we tried was the macadamia-crumbed schnitzel with raw slaw and sriracha mayo. This dish was also a generous serving and quite filling from the nuts.
Overall, the dishes were all tasty and the service was genial, although a bit spacey at times. For a restaurant that is only ever going to serve meat and veg, a bit more attention to the seasonality of their dishes might be appropriate. Otherwise, I enjoyed Asana and my foray into paleo food.
Review by Giulietta Avenia.
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