In Melbourne, a city full of food and obsessed by coffee, I cook, I eat, I share the good news and the bad. essjay eats


For a bit of a special treat, we decided to visit Embrasse, which has been “on the list” for a while now, but you know, Mugaritz and Paris got in the way! (darn them!).

I’ve never been a real fan of the site Embrasse occupies in Drummond street, not now, and not when it was Mrs Jones, nor 312. It’s a bit of a strange room being square rather than rectangular, it feels like it’s been cut off – and that there is more fun happening “out the back”. I think it’s a difficult size to create some “buzz” as well, although not funereal as it has been described, it was a bit introspective the day we were there. Eventually a loud party of four walk-ins filled the table in the middle of the room and gave all us couples something other than each other to look at.

At any rate, we were there for the food. Nicolas Poelaert was recently named our Young Chef of the Year, and I was a bit surprised to find some quite “mature” food on our plates. What do I mean? I mean subtle flavours where the produce shines, not the technique, and the guts to have a plate of vegetables as a main course. We wavered a bit about trying the degustation or not, but decided to go al la carte.

Arty shot of the amuse bouche.

(Sorry, I think it’s time for a tripod)

Selection of root vegetables, mushroom / ink crumbs, 62C egg and wood Sorrel

The egg is cooked for 1.5 hours and the texture of the egg is soft, but the yolk doesn’t run. JB declared it delicious.

Confit Pork Belly, asparagus, apple, gingerbread, wild alliums, oxalis flower.
By far the prettiest dish of the night, I loved the subtle garlic flavour and the tang of the oxalis. I have eaten a lot of oxalis lately. I must get on to the weeding!

Wagyu and onion tart with korean black garlic, black sesame, bread sauce and nasturtiums.
Or maybe this was the prettiest? The onions made a pattern that reminded me of Japanese paper. The meat was a fantastic colour, and though I’m not a huge wagyu fan, it was very flavoursome.

It would seem that I have forgotten to take a picture of my own main…very strange.

I ordered the meli melo of vegetables, sprouts, herbs and flowers, herb emulsions, perhaps because I knew it was one of the signature dishes, perhaps because I was pining for Mugaritz, perhaps because it was spring: and spring vegies are delicious. And it was a delicious. The vegies were perfectly cooked, asparagus, broad beans, carrots, something that might have been taro or manioc? zucchini, snow peas, many tasty little non-beasties. It was perfectly light and flavoursome and left room for dessert.

As a former pastry chef at Circa and the original Vue de Monde I was expecting a decent stab at dessert here. We weren’t disappointed by “Choclate parfait, meringue, chocolate crumb, sorrel granita”

The “mushroom” tops were the chocolate parfait, soft and with a jelly-ish texture, they reminded me of a non-frozen gelato. The stalks were meringue, and the granita was (the now ubiquitous) sorrel. The dirt was crumbled cake and it was the one part of the dessert that I wasn’t enamoured by.

So now to the elephant in the room, the service. There’s been a bit written about the service recently; we found it a tad overly-keen, friendly, perhaps a bit inexperienced, but with good hearts and especially with the young man who helped us choose our wine, passion. Young Chef of the Year, Nicolas Poelaert introduced himself towards the end of the meal and we spoke about Le Chateaubriand and his friend chef Inaki Aizpitarte. Nicolas hasn’t eaten Inaki’s food, so good blogger that I am, I pulled out the camera and showed him the photos from our recent meal. (that’s a bit weird right? But it happened). It certainly deserves to be full on a Friday night.

We’ll be back to see how this young chef develops, and hope that like Shannon Bennett, for whom Nic worked across the road where DOC is now, we will be proud to say one day “I remember when…”

312 Drummond Street
Carlton VIC 3053
03 9347 3312


3 thoughts on “Embrasse

  • […] of other bloggers have enjoyed Embrasse too. Check out reviews from Melbourne Gastronome, Essjay EatsĀ and The Very Hungry […]

    Pingback from: "…it pleases us" » Blog Archive » Embrasse: fabulous modern French fare

  • Hey Kitka – I’ll send you the HiRes phtotos then! Wait until you see Mugaritz!

    Comment from: essjayeats

  • hey, that meal looks like a 3D cubist collage… not bad. I could hang that on the wall above my fireplace.

    Comment from: Kitka

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