217 Riversdale Road Hawthorn, Victoria 3122
|Opening hours||Tue-Fri 7am-7pm; Sat-Sun 8am-7pm|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Payments||Mastercard, Visa, eftpos|
|Phone||03 9939 9340|
There's nothing like the feeling of biting into something and realising that the cook knows everything there is to know about getting that dish right. That's how I felt biting into Jenna Abbruzzese's pear frangipane tart.
The pastry isn't sweet but it's crisp and buttery – you could eat it by itself and call it a good day. The filling is a sweet swirl of delicious almond goo, and the pears on top – well, they're just pears dusted with vanilla sugar but they're the right pears baked at the right moment with the right intention.
The aim is to respect a classic dessert recipe, sure, and to honour the pears, which were bought a week prior and lay in wait till they had the right amount of sweetness and give. But beyond all that, it's to please the eater. There's no ego in it, no twist, no "my way". It's simple food, done perfectly.
That integrity and giving spirit flows through every aspect of this small all-day restaurant, run by chef Jenna Abbruzzese (ex-Rumi) and front-of-house Megan Griffey (ex-Rockpool, but most recently in New York making lemonade and fritters).
Heartfelt rather than hip, Our Kitchenette feels like sitting in a friend's farmhouse while she potters away at the stove, delivering you the delicious fruits of her labour with the sincere wish that you enjoy them.
That country kitchen feel is quite an achievement given that we're in a non-leafy portion of highbrow Hawthorn.
The menu leans to Italian but is rather Australian in its ability to make sense of many cuisines at once. That's why you can choose from American-style lemonade (watermelon and jalapeno!), English Stilton with quince jelly and oatcakes, a rye bagel with dill-cured salmon, and a nonna-style bean soup with chicken broth and nubbins of mortadella.
Dinner is served early (it's family and retiree-friendly) but you can also take bolognese and other goodies home. I did. The ragu ingredients read like a shopping list (beef, pork, tomato, carrot, celery…) but the bol is so much more than the sum of its parts because art and gentle coaxing aren't listed on the label.
Our Kitchenette is a small place doing big things in a quiet and unassuming way. Come for coffee (excellent), omelette (fluffy and golden), cake (exemplary) but above all, come to feel this place honour the moment you've carved out from your day.
Rating: Four stars (out of five)