The simplicity of this vision is a stark contrast to the sleek exuberance of Sofitel’s new luxury Hotel Chadstone, in which the restaurant sits. It’s all waves of glass and marble columns propping up very high ceilings. The space is open, with touches of brass and stone, and is dotted with booths, bars and benches. Pickett’s clearly got a thing for fire, and from the right seat you can see the grill’s flames licking up over the counter of the open kitchen.
Small plates include duck prosciutto on a thin cracker and dotted with tart Davidson plum jam, and flame-roasted peppers bring char to caprino, an Italian goat’s cheese, served with aged balsamic. Raw yellowfin tuna comes with borlotti beans and an umami-rich broth that’s added at the table, and creamy stracciatella and cured egg yolk play support to earthy spring asparagus. In another dish shavings of calamari and bottarga are weaved through spaghetti with a red wine reduction with a little squid ink. A Wagyu lasagne proves simplicity here doesn’t mean rustic or plain.
The other side of the Pastore coin – the open flame – informs the larger dishes. Wood-grilled barramundi marries with burnt blood oranges and fennel. Dry-aged lamb is cooked on the open flame, too. It’s served with charred leeks and sheep’s milk yogurt. A 1.2-kilo dry-aged bistecca fiorentina steak is designed to share.
That flame gets into the desserts, too. The chocolate torta is wood-roasted, lending a smokiness to the combination of chocolate, pistachio and last-season’s preserved cherries.
The wine list, compiled by sommelier Clinton Fox, focuses on Australian examples of Italian varietals. Or you can order a white Negroni, made with native botanicals and Pickett’s own gin.