For something a bit different, book yourself in for Berta’s weekly sagra dinners! Sagra is an Italian concept that involves a celebration of the bounties of Earth. Festivals pop-up around small towns to celebrate a gastronomic specialty or a raw ingredient. At Berta, this occurs once a week. Every Tuesday at 6pm and 8:30pm, the focus turns to a different ingredient, depending on what’s in season. The kitchen experiments with various techniques and flavours and then carries this one ingredient across four courses. You get four courses for $55 and there’s an optional matching wine flight for $40.
The celery and celeriac dinner was lots of fun! Here’s what we had —
Sagra del sedano e sedano rapa
Pickled quail eggs hearts chervil
Squid ink casarecce calamari green chilli
Braised lamb shoulder broad beans salsa verde
Camomile panna cotta apple honey walnuts
It was both fun and insightful, seeing celery and celeriac used in so many different lights. The standout course was dessert which featured honey from Berta’s very own rooftop hives. The clean crisp flavours of celery were well balanced in an overall fragrantly luscious dish. Celery can sometimes have a harsh bitter taste but this was absolutely gorgeous.
As a sucker for all things deep-fried, I also enjoyed the fritto misto which amongst other vegetables, featured battered Chinese celery. Chinese celery has thin hollow stems and a tougher build that enables it to withhold its shape after being deep fried.
I’m going backwards here, but the pickled quail eggs and salad of celery hearts were a fantastic starter too. The housemade foccacia is definitely worth mentioning, as is the pasta dish. The twisted narrow tube shape of casarecce pasta did a great job at picking up the delicate sauce and flowed perfectly into the heartiness of the slow braised lamb with celeriac mash. It wasn’t much to look at, brown food rarely looks good on a plate, but the flavours were wholesome, sweet, sharp and light.
Even if you’re not highly excited about the ingredient on showcase, Berta will somehow surprise and delight you. Sagra dinner themes are usually announced on their website a month in advance. Check it out!
17-19 Alberta Street, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 9264 6133