Church Street Enoteca continues to impress with its creative modern twist on Italian cuisine. It exudes charm and finery and has been a consistently acclaimed dining experience in Melbourne for many years. This is not a stodgy Italian pasta and pizza experience but the menu brims with flavour, freshness and imagination.
Church Street Richmond has a growing culinary scene but the icon is still Church Street Enoteca in its historical and elegant building (ex Steelworks and luxury cars). Come here for a great lunch or dinner but also this place also lends itself to the "special occasion". In fact while we were there the couple at the next table got engaged... (If you ever read this, all the best!)
Chef Sebastian is a passionate chef who chases the seasons using quality fresh ingredients, makes everything from scratch, keeps a simplicity, shows loads of technique, focusses on regions and is not afraid to make changes to the menu. He has built up relationships with quality suppliers - even the fish comes with a docket of when and where the fish was caught, and the name of the fisherman...
We started our dining experience (as guests at Church Street Enoteca) with some appealing entrees such as the Vitello Tonnato - Veal girello poached in vino bianco, lemon and garlic with seared Albacore tuna and smoked garlic aoli. The combination of veal and tuna was compelling. Not to mention the Tasmanian sashimi grade tuna was pretty fine. Great textures, flavours and presentation.
Church Street Enoteca has a fitout of class and style with 1930s overtures in its long dining room. Immediately you feel a sense of occasion when you arrive. This is not another grungy restaurant in Melbourne but classic original timber floor, crisp white tablecloths, large Italian artwork on the walls, and an art deco elegance.
The Hiramasa Kingfish Crudo featured thinly sliced kingfish served raw with red onion and scallop salsa, peperonata, micro leaves and green tomato jelly. The kingfish farmed in South Australia was superb as a ceviche style - with an attractive accompaniment of the other elements. Plenty of technique here. This was so delicate and delightful...
Moving from Antipasti to Primi, the Scampi and Squid Ink Risotto featured Carnaroli rice, grilled scampi, poached black tomatoes, and basil cress. The rissotto was served to us as half and half Squid Ink as well as the Char-grilled Corn Risotto with char-grilled corn, lemon and chives.... The half and half was because we were sampling the menu. We enjoyed both the risotto dishes but I've a penchant for the squid ink version. This was like classy comfort food for me, and we could detect Parmesan cheese blended into the dish. Creamy risotto goodness.
The modern twist on Italian cuisine was also displayed in the Crab and Shrimp Ravioli with Baccala featuring crab and shrimp mousse filled ravioli, salt code, preserved lemon and horseradish. There's some strong punchy flavours! I enjoyed the ravioli itself and the lemon hit with a hint of horseradish - and the filling of crab and shrimp was compelling. This was a fresh take on ravioli indeed.
The Flavours of Duck was the highlight for me as a dish which used plenty of technique and elements of the duck including a beautiful pate. It featured roasted duck breast, port and plum braised duck leg, liver parfait, fennel, witlof and orange and oregano gel. The dish was rich but the fennel and witlof cut through wonderfully. This was a high note dish and an absolute standout.
The Umbrian Style Pork Chops featured pork chops, salted pork belly, fava beans, cannelini beans, fresh herbs and bean salad. You almost felt you were eating a health dish such was the balance! The pork chops cooked wonderfully well with various types of beans to cut through the fat and richness. Great concept. The salted pork belly was more a smattering throughout the dish. This dish was great way to enjoy pork. Here are the two mains side by side...
Church Street Enoteca is a restaurant of wine enthusiasm and so we enjoyed matching wines with assistance from the Sommelier, who is also the manager here. With the name "enoteca" you know this is a serious wine destination. We enjoyed Italian, French and Australian wines here.
Dessert was also a hit with a French based play on White Chocolate featuring brown butter icecream, white chocolate snow, white chocolate parfait, caramelised white chocolate sorbet and a smattering of passionfruit. Again, there were plenty of elements and this was a fun, indulgent dish with great presentation.
Service here is top notch with experienced and knowledgeable wait staff. They aim for the classic dining experience.
Church Street Enoteca boasts some great function facilities including this private room that caters for around 12 people...
Church Street Enoteca is a great option for those looking for a sense of occasion, fine and creative cuisine, and excellent service. For a fine dining restaurant the portions are generous. Parking is also not a problem in the precinct, particularly at night. Highly recommended.