Photography by Madeline Bishop
A casual-yet-fancy dining experience which is sure to fast become your favourite neighbourhood bistro.
Etta is well-placed on Lygon Street in Brunswick East, standing out amongst the Italian and gelato joints for a well-deserved spot on your radar.
Once an old fish ‘n’ chip shop, owners Hayden McMillan, Dominique Fourie McMillan and Hannah Green have transformed a previously tired old venue into a well-designed and tasteful masterpiece.
All three share fine dining backgrounds, with chef McMillan most famously coming from The Roving Marrow in Carlton – as well as multiple-hatted venues in his home country of New Zealand. Green worked at Crown’s highly regarded Rockpool, as well as managing Ben Shewry’s Attica for four years before meeting Fourie McMillan at Neil Perry’s Rosetta.
Their accumulated experiences proves that they know what it takes to be a success in the Melbourne restaurant scene with the food, atmosphere and energy behind Etta as living proof of that knowledge.
The trio have the same food ethos – they want only local, seasonal food, able to be enjoyed with a clear conscience as to its origins. They also believe that it is important to give their chefs and waitstaff a much-needed work-life balance – an often-neglected issue within the industry – so that not only is the food ethically sourced, but the staff are ethically treated.
The food certainly lives up to its reputation. The $65 per person “Leave It Us” option is a no-brainer – although if you want to be a bit picky and choose some mouth-watering options for yourself, the heirloom tomatoes with mozzarella, kombu and fermented chilli is one to devour. It’s light, fresh and elegant – proof that Hayden has learnt how to make the most of a seasonal fruit.
Next, try the sweet corn agnolotti with shishito pepper and tarragon – a creamy, indulgent concoction – before finishing with a main of Inlet Rock flathead. A difficult fish to get a hold of due to the fishing restrictions in that area, the Inlet Rock flathead comes with pipis and a shellfish emulsion. It quite literally tastes like the sea – fresh, salty and fishy – but not in an overwhelming way.
Etta is the epitome of fine dining-influenced casual fare. If you’ve got some time to relax after your meal, there’s a great selection of locally sourced and international wines, which owner and sommelier Green can run you through.