The Estelle – Scott Pickett’s newest venture
Ever since I heard news that Scott Pickett had left The Point at Albert Park to run his own restaurant alongside Ryan Flaherty in a little shop front on High Street I had been eagerly at the edge of my seat to try it out. The Estelle, a name only two years old in Northcote, will remain the name for this relaunch. Not sure why it has been retained – will have to ask Scott that one.
The dining room is quite uncluttered for the small space. The checkered walls, the bubbly but knowledgeable staff, crossed with the comfort of suburban semi-casual dining makes for a delightful ambience. And seeing the likes of Ryan and Scott in the kitchen working their magic, adds an extra element of joy. The lighting however is very warm, to the point that the white balance on my camera was thrown awry.
The menu at the Estelle, requires you to commit to either a three ($45), five ($60), or seven ($80) course degustation. The three course allows you to select from each category on the menu. The five and seven course takes the menu selection out of your hands, letting the kitchen design the meal, with a special surprise element of items off the menu.
Amuse bouche – Cigars are fluffy on the inside but golden and sprinkled with olive-dust on the outside. If I remember correctly they were chickpea-fries, but without the waiter’s description, I wouldn’t have been able to distinguish it. The Sardine-fossil is in theory a reinvented prawn cracker, but a darn good one. Apparently the sardines are “split and dried, then deep fried in tapioca to the point of becoming a cracker” [Tomato], which is dunked into a martini of foamed crème fraiche. It is wrong and right all at the same time – a little salty, a little sour, a little Asian but not Asian.
Smoked eel, carrot and camomile – laid upon a sweet smear of carrot are slithers of eel that are succulent, smoky and a little peppery. Daubs of creamy chamomile were on the plate to offset the earthiness.
Coffee cured salmon, apple and witlof – The subtle roasted coffee aromas elicits a different earthiness to the previous dish, which certainly flirts well with the acidic dressing on the bean sprouts, crunch of fresh greens and apple, and daubs of foamed cream and witlof.
Pork medallion, fennel and cauliflower – the centrepiece pork medallions are firm but tender, a hint pink in the middle, well caramelised exterior and cleanly seasoned. The cauliflower puree is a smooth-creamy offset to the sweeter elements of carrot – which retains a touch of crunch – and fennel.
Kangaroo, daikon and blood orange – This was easily the preferred the main (of the two we had), with its thinly sliced kangaroo meat that had an intensely red (aka almost raw) middle, that was succulent and surprisingly not overly gamey nor tough. Daikon and white puree (of what ingredient escapes me) accompanies the meat on this plate with grace. I thought the small, single wedge of blood orange was a bit of a joke though – I wasn’t sure if I should cut it into tiny shreds or just eat it in one go.
Rice pudding, passionfruit and puffed rice – this was a warm, hearty ‘finish’ to the night. It has always been a problem trying to dissociate rice puddings with thoughts of porridge and breakfast. The crunchy bits of puffed rice sprinkled atop certainly doesn’t help that misconception. But you don’t see me complaining about this dish, as I could eat a whole of tub it if I could.
Rhubarb and musk – not a particularly informative label, but intriguing. Underneath the brittle shards of meringue and raspberry dusting, lay juicy sticks of rhubarb, daubs of yoghurt and musk infused ice cream. It is floral, sweet but sour, a little rich but still refreshing.
Sour cream, pumpkin and caramel – alas, being always ravenous, I pushed to have a third dessert that diners around us seemed to be raving about. Airy shreds of olive oil cake, daubs of moreish salted caramel gel and sour cream ice cream, with a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds – all sounds pretty reasonable so far. But let me finish, there is also a tiny pinch of Chinese five spice dust adding a bit of heat to the picture. I can’t see how, but it actually works.
Rating: Yummy+2 – is a definitely not a disappointer. Without the pressures and constraints from The Point, Scott and Ryan run free with their ideas here, creating a charming menu that is full of energy and flavour. I will be back for more!
Serving sizes are small so I’d recommend going for the 5 or 7 courses, which is still a bargain in Melbourne dining terms. Definitely the 7 for me next time.
243 High St