Hidden in a quiet alley you could easily walk past Berta without noticing its presence. Walking through two glass doors you enter into a lively bar / restaurant. You can tell a restaurant is doing something right when they are packed with a cheerful, buzzy crowd on a Tuesday night.
Berta holds Sagra dinners every Tuesday night. Sagra means festival in Italian, and at Berta they celebrate a seasonal ingredient through featuring that ingredient in each dish of the four course dinner. A month before, chef O Tama Carey would go through what’s in season and talk to their organic famers about what they have coming up. Once she’s decided on the key ingredient, it becomes a brain exercise on coming up with new ideas and flavours to go with that ingredient.
The ever-changing blackboard menu
The intriguing street view from our table
Pickled jars and wine above the bar
Tonight’s seasonal ingredient is duck (yay duck!) and we gleefully booked in to pre-celebrate Lu’s birthday. Our first course is a selection of antipasto plates: “Pate flat bread blood orange mostarda”, “Cured smoked pickled” and “Cauliflower chervil black olive eschallots”. To start we have the oh-so-more-ish creamy duck liver pâté with sweet blood orange marmalade on the crisp flat bread. It is the most appetising starter to kick off a feast with. Next we had the delicious cured and smoked duck with cherries, egg, cheese puree and Cuban bread and a refreshing cauliflower salad.
L Loves... Pate flat bread blood orange mostarda
Cauliflower chervil black olive eschallots
L Loves... Cured smoked pickled
Our second course is the spicy duck heart pasta. I think this is where the chef is testing her boundaries (and ours!). The chopped pieces of duck heart is quite gamey and the tagliatelle is a little on the soft side. I would have preferred it to have a slight bit of bite. Though an interesting dish, it is probably my least favourite dish tonight.
Tagliatelle spicy hearts sorrel
Our main course is less daring but full on flavoursome. A liberal serve of crunchy pistachio and farro rests on top of the roasted duck breast and pork and duck neck sausage. The accompanying side is chunky roast potato chips cooked in duck fat.
Roasted breast pork and duck neck sausage
White bean pistachio farro vincottoDuck fat roast potatoes
As we ate, we wondered how they are going to incorporate duck into the dessert. Half way through the meal, chef Carey stood in front of the blackboard menu and explained the sagra concept as well as each dish to us. Our dessert is a ricotta custard tart, with the custard made from duck eggs. The subtly sweet ricotta custard, with the crisp sage, citrusy lemon curd and thin pastry crust is simply heaven.
L Loves... Ricotta sage custard tart lemon curd
To my surprise Berta managed to serve us duck in so many ways, yet I don’t feel like I have eaten too much duck. All and all Berta Sagra is a fantastic experience which I would look forward to trying again!
The covert entrance - don't miss it!
• Taste: 8.5/10
• Ambience: 3.5/5
• Value: 4/5
• Service: 3.5/5
• Creativity and other WOW factors: 5/5
Overall rating: 24.5/30
17-19 Alberta St
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9264 6133
Lunch: Wed to Fri from 12pm
Dinner: Tues to Sat 6pm-late
Visited Sep 2013
Friendly advice: Try their 4 course Sagra dinner which is superb value at $55 pp. They have a different seasonal ingredient every Tuesday night. Check out Berta’s website for the upcoming seasonal ingredients.