One fine day, my hubby asked me, “Where would you like to celebrate your birthday?” My instant response to him was “Estelle”. That instant response got me an unforgettable paid-by-hubby-with-much-love birthday dinner at the highly raved Estelle.
One chef hatted Estelle is the brain child of owner-chefs Scott Pickett (current Saint Crispin) and Ryan Flaherty (ex-Fat Duck, Arzak). The modest shopfront was very unassuming and unpretentious. The door opened up to a cosy, laid-back and casual dining sphere with retro fittings and 80’s rock music! Now, that’s dining with a groove, ba-beh.
If you’re familiar with Estelle, they deliver a tasting menu-only format (three, five, seven and nine courses) with classic wine match or adventurous match that combines wine, cocktail and sake from the well-stocked bar.
We decided to go all the way with nine courses ($110 per person). I would love the adventurous match but having that by myself will not be as much fun (as hubby don’t drink :(). To appease my alcohol crave, I had a glass of beautiful Spanish white recommended by the bar.
Trio of amuse bouche
For starters, we were presented with a trio of Amuse bouche, that is made up of Cured melon with edible paper, black rice cracker and simple tartare on biscuit. The flavours were very refreshing and complementing to each other. A great preview to what’s gonna come.
Beetroot & horseradish, bavarois
First course was Beetroot, horseradish and bavarois. The beetroot was pureed smoothly and layered with thin jelly slice on the top – somewhat like eating a cheesecake. Very clever indeed.
Sweetcorn, goats feta & soubise
Next course was another vegetable dish simply by using an everyday ingredient, sweetcorn and turned that into a fun dish. The sweetcorn was charred lightly to let the flavours out and paired wonderfully with goats feta and roasted rice puffs.
Octopus, beetroot & sumac
After two delicious courses, the key to enjoy the chef’s menu is to savour all the ingredients on the plate together in one luscious bite. There were a lot of experimentation by the chefs in terms of technique, ingredient & flavours – it was clever and fun without losing substance and taste. Such was the charred octopus that was enjoyed well together with the sweet pickled beetroot and cream.
Spanner Crab mornay was served as the fourth course. Presentation was not as exciting as the other dishes but this dish somewhat has a very comforting effect on me. It has the perfect blend of little crab chunks mixed into a creamy sauce accompanied by crispy crusts of roasted cauliflower.
John dory, pickled shimeji & bonito
After a slew of seafood dishes, our fifth course came in the form of a heart warming John dory, pickled shimeji & bonito bathe in warm roasted onion consomme. The dish was a little pulled back compared to the others but nevertheless, equally as delicious. This dish reminded me of the Yellowfin Tuna that we had at Saint Crispin in a similar fashion.
Roast pork gel with peanut butter puree & coffee
So, having tasted three seafood courses, I’m suspecting that the next course will be meats. The one-month old new menu Roast pork gel with peanut butter has a combination of three lustful ingredients – coffee, peanut butter and fat slab of roast pork that translated to a heart stopping moment for me.
Venison, juniper & broccoli
The next dish was the highlight for us. Think roasted cauliflower teamed with tender, juicy venison that is cooked to pink perfection and venison shoulder rolled into a bite-size ball, well accompanied with crisp greens. I was so glad the Chef selected this dish for us. It’s smart and very interesting.
Sour cream, pumpkin & salted caramel
Having gone through all the excitement, we finally slowed down with desserts, which came as the last two courses. The Olive oil and vanilla sponge served with frozen sour cream was fun and hugely addictive.
Apricot tart with juniper custard and mint ice cream
Lastly, Apricot tart with juniper custard and frozen mint was made up of two dainty desserts on one plate. What a simple and nice presentation. The degustation took about 2.5 hours to finish but it was time well enjoyed.
To end the dinner, we were served with mini cups of cleanser with lime, tapioca with mango yoghurt. What a way to end a beautiful and unforgettable dinner.
Verdict : Estelle has elevated dining experience to a whole new level without trying too hard. Scott Pickett and Ryan Flaherty’s interpretation of the menu was tasteful, artful and fun. To top that, Estelle offers one of the best value degustation menu that will leave you breathless. I look forward to the many wondrous creations by Scott & Ryan – which is one of the many reasons why I am coming back again and again.
To die for : Venison, juniper & broccoli
Price : $$$
Yummy Factor : +4
Noise Level : Moderate
[Estelle Bar & Kitchen]
243 High Street, Northcote, Victoria
P: 03 9489 4609
Tue-Thus: Dinner & Late
Fri-Sun: Lunch, Dinner & Late