Estelle Bar & Kitchen is quite the dream collaboration. Chefs Scott Pickett and Ryan Flaherty have joined forces to create this intimate space that certainly delivers. Scott (whose leadership brought The Point 2 Chef Hats) and Ryan (an alumnus of The Fat Duck, el Bulli and Arzak) grace the kitchen with their presence. The dining area is cosy and allows glimpses into the even cosier kitchen, where Scott and Ryan ply their trade. The cuisine is unashamedly Modern Australian, the menu seasonal and unique and the execution wonderful.
One thing is certain; the flavour combinations that appear on your plate, whilst not always classical, work. Given the calibre of the chefs, it is no surprise that the food frequently reaches 2 Chef Hat standard.
Like everything in life, however, Estelle Bar & Kitchen is not perfect. The wine list is small and unimpressive (for a self proclaimed bar) with an emphasis on foreign wines. Given the sheer calibre of Australian wines, it is hard not to feel this list was designed to appeal to those seeking "sophistication" at the expense of quality.
Despite this, it is easy to forgive Estelle Bar & Kitchen because of the food. Each course was well thought out and delightfully balanced. Perhaps most importantly, each course was interesting (an attribute often neglected by restaurateurs). The service was warm and unobtrusive. If J and I could keep this restaurant a secret all to ourselves, we surely would.
Beetroot, orange & ashed goats cheese
Sashimi, horseradish cream and gazpacho
Flathead, beurre noisette & cauliflower
Venison, mushroom & chocolate
Sour cream, pumpkin & salted caramel
Estelle Bar & Kitchen represents amazing value for money ($70 for 5 courses, $90 for 7 courses and $110 for 9 courses). I would recommend trying this restaurant before it gains a Chefs Hat, outgrows its setting in Northcote and starts commanding higher prices. But before this inevitably happens, J and I will be returning as often as we can.