Though small, neighbourhood restaurant Etta has built a big culinary reputation over the years. And with the partnership of owner Hannah Green and current head chef Rosheen Kaul, this Brunswick East favourite has galvanised its status as an essential Melbourne dining experience.
Formerly of the Carlton Wine Room, Kaul started in the Etta kitchen in November 2020, combining a range of global influences spanning Asia and the Middle East, as well as drawing on her own Peranakan-Chinese, Filipino and Kashmiri heritage.
The menu is also a culmination of Kaul’s time in Melbourne dining institutions – first apprenticing at contemporary Chinese restaurant Lee Ho Fook, followed by a six-month stint at Ezard honing her skills with pastry, and a break-out role as chef de partie at Dinner By Heston.
A typical evening at Etta always starts with its noteworthy sourdough bread. An order of small dishes is recommended next, but Kaul says it’s her larger dishes that express her ideas best. A past highlight of soy-and-garlic-marinated pork belly, tenderised with shio koji, recalls her mother’s adobo – a staple of Filipino cuisine. A tuna dish starring za’atar and salted shiso leaf referenced Brunswick’s cultural melting pot of cuisines. Classic desserts informed by Kaul’s time at Ezard bring any meal here to a nostalgic close.
Wine is an essential part of the Etta experience, and the 250-bottle list is a roving snapshot of the world’s best growing regions. You’ll find textural whites from Austria, a smattering of French varietals from Burgundy and beyond, and a healthy selection of small-scale Victorian wine-makers.
The space used to be a fish-and-chip shop and some of its past remains, including the stone floor in the front section and hardwood floorboards in the back. The bar and 80-seat dining room are separated by an open kitchen. Both rooms revolve around large and lavish Australian marble benches. The restaurant’s concrete walls are cut a few inches from the ground, exposing some of the building’s raw brick. A playful forest mural by local artist Rob Bowers stands out in the mostly austere space.
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