Cardigan Place Cellars
Through ample windows, the airy front bar of Cardigan Place Cellars overlooks the village-like streets outside. A large wooden bar dominates the room, with barstools lined up to welcome diners for a natural wine and a snack. Further back, a cosy dining room – where jars of pickled vegetables line old wooden shelves – is more suited to a sit-down meal. The space looks into a busy open kitchen. Upstairs is a private dining room, and there’s more seating out front.
Heading the kitchen is chef Kirra Parsons, who spent her formative years at Dunkeld’s Royal Mail and Lûmé under executive chef Shaun Quade. When the call came to run the show here, Parsons jumped at the chance.
On the menu refined, small plates shine, and salt and acidity intertwine gracefully. Start with cheese and charcuterie, which might include jamon, aged 14 months; sopressa veneta (salami with a coarser mince for a fuller, meatier flavour, infused with fennel and garlic); Wagyu bresaola; a soft blue Stilton; or a 12-month-old Manchego, from La Mancha in Spain.
More unexpected on the snacking side of things is the bite-sized chestnut briq-pastry crisp. It comes topped with slivers of asparagus braised in kombu, white pepper and tiny chive cylinders. A playful pate dish is a creamy swirl of chicken liver cream with gigantic lacy artichoke chips, dusted with green coriander. What first appears to be an egg yolk turns out to be citrus jelly. It goes well with a bright Ministry of Clouds tempranillo grenache.
A dedicated vegan menu includes smoked cashews; beetroot pastrami with pickled vegetables; barbequed cauliflower with foraged fennel powder; and a fig, red mustard leaf and hazelnut salad.
The quirky list of mostly Australian wines focuses on small and low-intervention producers. Take-home bottles are available too, at a 20 per cent discount.