There’s a romantic allure to stumbling into an unassuming restaurant and discovering something special. So it goes at Carnation Canteen, which looks more like a house than a restaurant on its tree-lined corner. The 20-seat Euro-style spot is like so many of the best “if you know, you know” spots, including L’Area in Paris and Le French Diner in New York.

Behind it are Audrey Shaw, an architect-turned-chef who fell for restaurant life working at now-shuttered Michelin-starred Ellory in London, and her husband Alexander Di Stefano. Shaw also did a stint with Ruth Rogers at The River Cafe in London, and with Brigette Hafner at Tedesca Osteria.

At Carnation, the weekly rotating menu includes a handful of starters, mains and sides, often with organic vegetables from Days Walk Farm in Keilor. You might eat Gruyere and thinly sliced potato on toast, spanakorizo (a Greek spinach and rice dish) with feta, or grilled calamari with parsley and capers. One constant is a knockout King George whiting, served whole.

Vibrant Australian wines along with French sparkling, Spanish whites, Italian reds, and champagne, Shaw’s favourite, complement the menu. The idea is that you can start with a glass of Blanc de Blanc and finish with Egly-Ouriet Ratafia de Champagne, a fortified wine made from the final pressing of grand-cru wine, Shaw says. Each bottle is thoughtfully chosen to champion sustainability and female winemakers internationally.

When you enter, a pink marble bar top and hand-made tables invite you into the space. Shaw designed the restaurant (naturally). Her design was influenced by former boss Kerstin Thompson – with whom Shaw worked on the design for Sunda and Aru – as well as her mentor, restaurateur Con Christopoulos of Siglo, City Wine Shop and Kafeneion.

Contact Details

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Updated: July 16th, 2024

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