115 Plenty Rd, Preston
Sartoria was once a successful dressmaking, bridal and evening wear business from the 70’s through the 90’s created by J & C Agricola. In modern day, the whole space has been transformed into a friendly, warm light filled café and eatery adorned with machinery and novelties straight from it’s dress factory days.
Walking into this place last weekend gave me the biggest hit of nostaglia. My mum’s parents were both sartorialists; Nonna a dress maker and Nonno a tailor. I used to spend a lot of school holidays at their house, sitting with Nonna in her sewing room, watching her work. I would go with her to her friend’s houses while she measured them up for their next new outfit. She taught me to sew by hand (and knit), how to cut patterns from fabric, how to pin and stitch and hem and sew on buttons. I used to stitch together little outfits for my dolls and sisters, design dresses on Nonna’s scrap graph paper, and spend hours flicking through Nonna’s old fashion magazines from Italy. With all the beautiful old Singer desks and machines, Sartoria felt just like home.
The space inside is enormous, with ample seating and room to move. The little touches like the glass bowls filled with buttons and beads, and the fashionista slide show beaming through a projector make a place like this, and they’ve done really well on that side of things.
When it came to the food, the menu reads brilliantly, however I’ve heard lots of mixed reviews. While we mulled over our options, we started with tea (from Storm in a Teacup) for me and coffee (from Where’s Marcel?) for husband – both delicious and brought out quickly, great start.
I especially loved the little timer that came out with my tea, and the beautiful tea cup it as served with – again, little things that make a big difference.
We finally decided on food; husband went with The Machinist ($19.80): crispy pork hock, crumbed black pudding, romesco salsa, poached eggs and crostino. While the pork hock didn’t look like much being compressed into soldiers, once he started pulling it apart, there was suddenly a whole lot more. And it was good. The black pudding, he described as a “ball of flavour,” He said it was comfortably the best thing on the plate, and he’d go back again just to eat that. Unfortunately, though, his poached eggs were overcooked and the yolks were set inside, so no runny, gooey egg yolk to sauce it all together. Massive let down for what was otherwise one of his favourite breakfast dishes this year.
I had a really hard time picking a dish, but was ultimately feeling something sweet, and went with The Designer ($17.50): buffalo yoghurt hotcakes with activated nuts, green tea cream, caramelised pineapple and salted kaya. First up, I had to question the mention of activated nuts on the menu, because there were barely any on there! Other than that, though, I couldn’t fault the dish – the buffalo yoghurt made the hotcakes super moist, surprisingly fluffy and not overly sweet, they were perfectly cooked through, and the green tea cream generously plonked on top was delicious. I loooooved the caramelised pineapple as well as the bits of fresh fruit; this is the kind of breakfast I love going out for and treating myself to!
Overall, I think my hesitations were very much unfounded – while the over-done eggs were a big disappointment, we both agreed they got a lot more right than they got wrong, and we’re both already looking forward to our next visit. My only regret is that Nonna Gemma isn’t still around, because I think she’d have absolutely loved Sartoria 🙂