Etta is a neighbourhood wine bar at heart, but over the years it’s established itself as one of Melbourne’s best restaurants. And with current head chef Rosheen Kaul, this little Brunswick East bistro is playing a vital role in Melbourne’s dining discussion.
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 Chinese, Filipino and Kashmiri heritage.
The menu is also a culmination of Kaul’s time in Melbourne dining institutions – first ap-prenticing 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 truly express her culinary ideas. 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. Clas-sic desserts informed by Kaul’s time at Ezard bring any meal here to a nostalgic close.
But Etta is a wine bar after all, and the extensive 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.