Husband-and-wife team Nathan and Freja Dunnell are turning their enormously popular Wilston cafe Freja’s into a degustation fine-dining restaurant. Named Elska, the new restaurant will run its first service on Thursday night.

Freja Dunnell says that while it’s sad to say goodbye to Freja’s, a degustation restaurant has always been a goal for her and Nathan.

“Since we started the cafe, we wanted to have a degustation restaurant,” she says. “But Nathan was coming from fine-dining, working at Stokehouse Q – he knew the level of professionalism it needed. And we hadn’t been owners before so we thought, ‘Let’s start with a cafe and learn the backend and how everything works’.”

Freja’s served its last punters on December 31 and the couple spent much of January working to enclose the venue’s courtyard, turning the space into an intimate 12-seat restaurant with a fit-out inspired by a Nordic cottage. The Dunnells have changed the furniture and given the entire eatery a new coat of paint, new blinds and sheer curtains, closing it off from the road outside.

In the kitchen, Nathan will be joined by Lauren Kinne, another Stokehouse alum, the duo prepping a seasonal menu that will be dished out in anywhere between seven and ten courses.

Despite Freja’s the cafe’s popularity, Freja Dunnell says Wilston locals have been overwhelmingly supportive of the transformation, with the restaurant already accumulating a whopping 400 bookings.

“Ninety per cent were ecstatic,” she says. “The’ve wanted something fine-dining on the north side for a long time, especially in the village. So they were really excited.”

Elska opens on Thursday February 6. For bookings see here.

3/1 MacGregor Street, Wilston
0414 319 958