The next few weeks will be a juggling act for Daniel Morris and Emma Ferguson. In addition to running the southern Italian–themed No Mafia in Northbridge, they are also preparing to reopen Balthazar, one of the CBD’s longest-running restaurants and a former stomping ground for Morris.
So what’s changing? Balthazar regulars will notice a brighter room, with the front area to become a dedicated wine bar. And while the chandeliers are going, the focus on good eating and drinking remains.
Fellow Balthazar alumnus Skye Faithful (Beaufort St Merchant, Post) is returning to the restaurant where she started her apprenticeship. Keeping in step with the room’s clubby, old-school lines, her menu eschews share plates for the traditional entree–main–dessert format.
“It’s just really good wine food,” says Morris. “Dishes that are well crafted without any of the fancy stuff going on.”
Opening menu dishes such as buckwheat risotto with roasted chestnut and beetroot labne, and pan-fried whiting with sprouted lentils and pickled cauliflower, fly the flag for autumnal flavours, while the offer of house-made macadamia-milk “ricotta” speaks to a commitment to DIY (a similar approach informs the cocktail program: macadamia and lemon-myrtle Sazeracs, anyone?).
For wines, Balthazar will relaunch with a 99-bottle list organised from lightest to heaviest. The selection skews towards the boutique with locals such as Dormilona and Brave New Wine in the mix. Morris describes the selection as wines guests will “want to jump into the glass and party with” and staff are happy to make the introductions. Each week, Balthazar will offer a different assortment of wines (eight white and eight reds) by the glass. In future, takeaway wine purchases will also be available.