150 Wellington Parade East Melbourne, Victoria 300203 9078 4056
|Opening hours||Mon-Fri 7am-10pm; weekends 8am-3pm|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
East Melbourne is a funny place, defined more by its proximity to the city, parks and Melbourne's sporting precincts than by its own mansions, rooming houses and general leafiness, or by the various established and just-visiting folk that live there. It's a suburb that wants to feel like a neighbourhood and this new easy, honest all-day eating house is just the thing to give it tasty focus.
Persillade is a Melbourne-via-Paris ''cave a manger'' ('wine shop for eating'), open for early coffees and crumpets, then jaunty and available right through to civilised nightcaps. The owners are young couple Tanya and Aidan Raftery, front-of-house pros who may have looked after you at other good restaurants around town. They managed these premises when it was indie wine store Europa Cellars, then took on the business, honed the wine offering and, with chef Jacob Scannell, turned a snack menu into a proper bistro. There's a zippy little wine library: every bottle has a backstory and the prices start low ($20) and climb slowly. Peruse the written list or pluck from the racks for $10 corkage. The Rafterys even make their own wine - one barrel a year.
The food is a clever, price-conscious take on modern French bistro cookery. Snapper fillet is cured in sugar and salt, beaten flat, and arranged with blood orange segments, olive cheeks, toasted quinoa and citrus oil. Chicken is often a big yawn but the bone-in thigh here is on the verge of exciting: cooked sous vide then seared to dark golden, served with carrot puree and a fricassee of navy beans, bacon, peas and garlic. Ocean trout is crusted with persillade, the restaurant's namesake parsley condiment, and served with asparagus and hollandaise sauce. Nothing over-reaches but it's smart cooking, from the cheaper cuts, to the natty flourishes and the generous hand with butter. A little unevenness of seasoning and temperature is easily waved away: I'd happily eat this food three times a week.
The look is light, clean and streamlined with recycled timber and comfortable seats. Ace faces from illustrator Oslo Davis appear on the menu, suggesting a long parade of characters who make Persillade their local. I hope all those faces and many more besides put this place on their regular circuit, helping to turn a postcode into a village.
Rating: 3 and a half stars (out of five)