Saturday, 30 May 1998

A Cucumber Called Rebecca , May 30, 1998

A Cucumber Called Rebecca by Five Square Metres
at Matteo's until May 31, 1998
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
 Reviewed around May29

Restaurateur, Matteo Pignatelli of Matteo's, is known for navigating a creative course in food service and his contribution to the Arts 2000 Dine Out week is no exception.

He wanted to stimulate all five senses of his guests so he called on Five Square metres, a theatrical improvisation group and Cosmo Cosmolino, a musical trio to accompany his stupendous five-course degustation luncheon menu.

While we plunged headlong into gloriously prepared and presented taste sensations cooked by chefs Raymond Khalil and Brendan McQueen, the 'theatrical 'chef, Michel-Pomme Hollandaise (Andrew Morrish) abuses his customers for their lack of style.

He berates his recalcitrant waitress (Sandra Pascuzzi), embarrasses a frumpy solo diner who awaits her tardy blind date (Clair Bartholomew) and keeps one eye on the seductive methods of his sultry wine waiter (Michael Hurwood).

Classical and gypsy strains of violin (Hope Csutoros), Cello (Helen Mountford) and accordion (Judy Gunson) accompany all of this.

The performers are improvising on a loose scenario that takes place, not on a separate stage, but amongst the real diners at table. The dining room drama escalates when the waiter does his sexy, latin dance and smears cream all over the dowdy object of his desire only to lick it off to a Piazzola tango.

Other diners were spattered with stray clots of cream. Matteo wanted us to be touched, to feel close, to be reached but not to feel invaded.

The unexpected guest at our table – a sharp-witted Q.C. with a taste for good wine and naughty stories – provided further entertainment.

The set menu, served with God's gift to wines, was divine. We began with a light sardine and smoked salmon terrine, then delicately flavoured sauteed prawns on a giant gnocchi with pesto, rich squab breast with duck liver, finely-textured saddle of white rabbit with olive and truffle tapinade, all followed by a cherry tartlet and coffee. Oh happy Sunday afternoon!

Matteo hopes to continue his crusade to bring fine art and food together with a possible monthly luncheon. He runs  "The Endless Lunch' annually with a debate on food issues, trivia contest and food and wine from lunch to the wee hours. What an innovative and personable host he is. Eat at Matteo's.

By Kate Herbert

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