Almost everything – from bread and butter to bottarga – is made from scratch at Lene, a wine bar and gallery. This is not surprising when you consider owner-chef Cameron Williams’s experience. He apprenticed with the legendary Jacques Reymond, then worked stints at Melbourne’s Grossi Florentino and Lesa, Sydney’s Sepia and Copenhagen’s Michelin-starred Kadeau.
Lene (pronounced “lenny”) is an exciting place to eat, but Williams wants diners to feel right at home through nostalgic, familiar food presented in inventive ways. He tweaks the menu each week. Dishes might include kangaroo tartare served with romesco, preserved snow peas and potato chips, roast chook laced with jalapeno honey and tossed with wild rocket, or lamb shoulder surrounded by cavolo nero and chermoula.
If you leave enough room for dessert, you might try Williams’s riff on a Maxibon; sourdough toast ice cream in a sesame seed wafer; or rhubarb and sugar-fermented kiwi sorbet.
It’s all backed by a tight wine list, featuring bottles from Australia and New Zealand. Beer is from just down the road, at Burnley Brewing.
The interior is light-filled and comfortable, and feels more like an artist’s dining room than a wine bar. Rustic floorboards, neat timber tables and bentwood chairs are flanked by the colourful art on the walls. You might see works from well-known and emerging Australian artists like Christopher Jewitt and Harry Rothel, which provide a enormous dizzying pink- and blue-hued backdrop to the Victorian-procured smaller bites and share plates.
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