Finding amazing food in the least lively places is one of the best things about Melbourne. All that sprawl means that you can find a fine dining champion sitting happily among low-key boozers and Nonna’s favourite pizza joint up in High Street, Northcote.
The primo dinner spot in question is owned by Melbourne restaurant kingpin, Scott Pickett, who has transformed two of his northside venues, Estelle Bistro and Estelle by Scott Pickett (ESP), into one grand masthead, Estelle.
This iteration still projects an air of masculine swagger with exposed black bricks, emerald green marble, big floor-to-ceiling wine racks and two internal windows that now connect the two restaurant spaces.
The menu was created by Scott Pickett and Estelle’s head chef Valentin Barrere (whose past credits include ESP, Vue de Monde and Marque). You can expect lighter fare in the bar area, including Sydney rock oysters with native mignonette; sardines with fermented tomato and bottarga; and a bowl of starch crackers made from veal tendon, roast onion and coffee that fizz and melt on your tongue like a prawn chip.
In the adjacent 65-seat dining room, the menu is beefed up with the contemporary Australian flavours that Pickett is known for. There’s Berkshire pork with mustard leaf and kohlrabi; a half eggplant stuffed with quinoa, white soy and brown butter; and hand-rolled macaroni served with cacio e pepe and guanciale.
The wine list, developed by sommelier and restaurant manager Fabien Moalic, features a broad selection of mostly Aussie drops. There are a handful of signature Estelle cocktails to try, including a Spicy Smokey Sour (the restaurant’s take on a sour, smoked and spiced rum) and the Pickett and Co (which features Pickett and Co gin, honey and thyme).
Estelle is open daily for dinner and from Friday to Sunday for lunch.
243-245 High Street
|Opening hours:||Mon-Thu 6-10pm; Fri-Sun noon-4.30pm & 6-midnight|
|Transport:||Nearby stations: Northcote; Merri|