New era: Scott Pickett’s Estelle has reopened with a new menu and approach

In July last year, Melbourne chef and restaurateur Scott Pickett announced that his Northcote fine-diner ESP and next-door bar Estelle Bistro would close, making way for a new concept that would combine the best of both.

The new Estelle, which reopened over the weekend, is a venue designed for all occasions.

Inside the fit-out is familiar but refreshed and spacious. While the two former venues have been combined into one, there’s still delineation between the new casual bar space and the more formal 65-seat dining room, which are connected by two provincial-style internal windows. Natural light from the floor-to-ceiling street-front windows now washes over exposed brick and bright green marble.

Unlike the formal ESP, here Pickett wants diners to stay and sit for drinks and snacks, as well as dinner.

Estelle has two menus, for bar and restaurant dining. Pickett and newly appointed Estelle Head Chef Valentin Barrere (formerly ESP and Vue de Monde) have created a contemporary Australian menu focusing on European and native Australian ingredients, in the forms of snacks, light share plates and, the whole hog, a tasting menu.

The bar menu has eight snacks, like puffed veal tendon crackers with roasted onions and coffee, sardines on toast with fermented tomato and bottarga, and a Wagyu bolognese and kimchi toastie. Three mains and sides are also available at the bar, like half a roasted eggplant with miso and brown butter, topped with quinoa.

In the dining room, the share plate options grow. Starting small, there’s baby corn cooked in its husk, served with parmesan emulsion and dusted with black truffle; and kangaroo with thinly sliced fresh blood plum, caramelised endive heart and macadamia.

Moving on to the larger plates, macaroni are hand-rolled into long, straight tubes and served with a "cacio e pepe" foam and guanciale. The most expensive dish on the menu is the Sher Wagyu 9+ rump cap with allium and buckwheat, ringing in at $39.

Sommelier and restaurant manager Fabien Moalic has pulled together 200 bottles, mostly from around Australia, while the cocktail list is short and simple, using spirits like Pickett’s Pickett and Co Gin.

Photography: Simon Shiff.