142 Bridge Rd Richmond, VIC 3121
Ryan Flaherty, latterly of Northcote's Estelle and a long time ago at England's Fat Duck, has opened his first solo venture, and it's as personal and passionate as you might dare to hope. A small team runs the petite, comfortable dining room with a wit and spirit that aligns perfectly with the food. A jokey hotdog turns out to be sublime boudin blanc, battered, fried and dusted with paprika salt. There's confidence and restraint in dishes like dory poached in master stock and topped with crunchy puffed beef tendon. Flaherty plays deftly with temperature and texture: a kangaroo carpaccio is served frozen, so its peppery meatiness is a slow reveal; wobbly veal jelly is a curious but winning sidekick. Clever cooking is sometimes about doing less: that's why there's sirloin and fat chips on the menu, too. A chocolate dessert is a pretty tumble of biscuity crunch, spiced ganache and oozy citrus-chocolate sauce, as thoughtful and expressive as Mister Jennings itself.
AND ... Unlimited still or sparkling water is $4 a head.
VIBE Chef's restaurant.
BEST BIT Creative food.
WORST BIT Climbing upstairs to the toilet.