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  • Restaurants
  • Brunswick East
  • price 2 of 4
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Etta (Photograph: Annika Kafcaloudis)
    Photograph: Annika Kafcaloudis
  2. Etta pork belly rib (Photograph: Annika Kafcaloudis)
    Photograph: Annika Kafcaloudis
  3. Etta interior (Photograph: Annika Kafcaloudis)
    Photograph: Annika Kafcaloudis
  4. Etta oyster (Photograph: Annika Kafcaloudis)
    Photograph: Annika Kafcaloudis
  5. Hannah Green and Rosheen Kaul (Photograph: Annika Kafcaloudis)
    Photograph: Annika Kafcaloudis
  6. Etta chicken (Photograph: Annika Kafcaloudis)
    Photograph: Annika Kafcaloudis
  7. Rosheen Kaul (Photograph: Annika Kafcaloudis)
    Photograph: Annika Kafcaloudis

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

This contemporary neighbourhood restaurant is at the height of its powers, offering faultless fare and a drinks list that dazzles every time

Etta has been hot on everyone’s lips since it entered the Brunswick East dining scene –particularly since head chef Rosheen Kaul joined the kitchen in 2020. In the culinary world, countless awards and glowing reviews often breed scepticism but a recent Tuesday evening dinner proved the praise is just as warranted as ever.

We were seated in a cosy corner nook decked out with decorative pillows, ideal for soaking up the scene (to the left, the bar and open kitchen; the right, Lygon street passersby; and to the front, a solo diner in for an early drink and snacks followed by a couple on date night – both common finds at this venue). 

Though Etta is a restaurant, strictly speaking, it's frequently mistaken as a wine bar. Perhaps because it has a list to stand up among the best of Melbourne's wine bars. Bottles range in price, region and style with a largely Victorian focus. Whether you want old-world or new-age, there’s something for everyone. But it pays to look past the vino as the sake offering is equally thoughtful (albeit less extensive) with a few hard-to-find drops from around Japan. 

Fitting in with a trend many restaurants and bars seem to be following as of late, the food menu is snack-heavy and designed to share. We start strong with a crab masala-stuffed zucchini flower – its thin, nearly translucent batter and bold spice putting cheese-filled numbers to shame. It's large enough to split between two while the quail egg is a one-bite wonder, served on a skewer with fried tofu, pickled radish, feferoni and a generous drizzle of Sichuan chilli oil.

Momentum is maintained as larger dishes begin to grace the table. The red curry rice and herb salad, an Etta mainstay, has been reimaged for the current menu with smoky grilled octopus and crumbled pieces of otak-otak, a spiced woodfired fish cake that’s almost like goats cheese in texture and just as savoury.

The golden tofu, served under a pile of charred spring greens and wild garlic, looks deceptively simple but shows the outstanding potential of beancurd when well prepared. And the shiitake-filled wombok cabbage rolls with tempura enoki, another perennial favourite, achieves the elusive goal of meatless main that doesn't skimp on substance. Flame-licked and full of flavour, both dishes are unmissable, vegetarian or not.

The savoury dishes were faultless so we decide to try dessert – a pandan and amaretto frangipane tart with palm sugar ice cream that reads extremely well but unfortunately falls flat. It’s not bad by any stretch but lacks dimension, particularly after the last few courses. A bit of citrus zest or even a touch of burnt sugar would go a long way but the pairing of sweet, nutty Kameman Shuzo Genmaishu sake means the meal ends on a high note.

In a sea of great restaurants, it’s tough to be truly exceptional but Etta straddles the line. A continuous reinvention of their classics seems key to the venue’s success – and if it continues on this trajectory, one can only assume great things are to come. But regardless of Etta’s future, it’s clear its stripes are well-deserved.

Time Out Melbourne never writes starred reviews from hosted experiences – Time Out covers restaurant and bar bills for reviews so that readers can trust our critique.

While you're in the neighbourhood, here's why Brunswick East was voted the sixth coolest neighbourhood in the world. Looking for more great restaurants? Check out our ultimate guide to Melbourne's top 50 right now. 

Written by
Quincy Malesovas


60 Lygon Street
Brunswick East
Opening hours:
Tue-Thu 5pm-10pm; Fri-Sat noon-10pm
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