17 Jan Embla, Melbourne CBD
The Town Mouse is one of the restaurants in Carlton that stands out in my memory, so the news of a sister site opening in the CBD got me excited. It won Best New Restaurant and a hat in the Good Food Guide 2017 awards, so things were looking good, but as with many places, an exploratory visit kept slipping my mind. That is, until it was brought up as the potential location for a catch-up. I readily agreed.
We settle into a table within the dark, rustic and cosy interior. I’ve heard good things about the chicken, but it doesn’t appear on the menu today. No matter. There are plenty of interesting-sounding things to order.
The bread. Oh the bread. Bread is one of my weaknesses, and one of the things I eagerly anticipate when going to fine dining restaurants. Embla’s Green Olive Sourdough is very good. The warm, fluffy crumb is broken up by the salty olives studded inside, and the thick slices are moistened with the slightly sour, airy cultured cream. Worth it.
The Smoked Duck Liver Parfait is incredibly rich, though it is toned down a tad by the stout. It’s definitely one for sharing between a few. Snapper carpaccio packs quite a bit of acidity, and the peppers are a tad bitter for my tastes. Though a little salty, there are good flavours in the Squid, matched with fennel, peas and pil pil.
Burrata is always a compelling proposition, and Embla’s soft and creamy Burrata with a tangy topping of lovage and leeks is a winner. The Raw Beef with water cress, shallots, and potent horseradish also goes down a treat.
There’s a refreshing simplicity to the dishes at Embla, and I always enjoy a produce-driven menu. A restaurant with a different menu is due to open upstairs soon. I suppose that means I’ll have to come back. I’m hoping that the chicken will be there to welcome me.