The latest from the food and travel scenes.
It’s been two years in the making, but the new Melbourne restaurant by Embla’s owners is here at last.
New Australian hotels, a hot Australian eatery in Denmark, and a serious sibling above Embla.
Lesa might be Embla’s new sibling but
she doesn’t want for polish. Embla made its name on Russell Street as a place where a person might drop in for a quick drink or snack, but find themselves charmed by the quality of the food and wine. Lesa, on the other hand, is intended to have a heightened sense of occasion.
Unlike its neighbour downstairs, Lesa takes reservations and serves dishes for you to enjoy all by yourself (rather than sharing with the table). Expect plenty of char and smoke on the menu from the wood-fired hearth. Highlights include local f lounder with pear-leaf oil and a hazelnut miso, and a riff on the French classic île f lottante starring roast-barley koji anglaise and salted bergamot.
Even though it’s directly above
Embla, the new restaurant took two years to open. The upstairs space was “interesting, but not in a good way,” says co-owner Christian McCabe. It had apricot paint, faux Italian domes and an electric pizza oven that was designed to look wood-fired.
“Once we’d ripped out all the bad bits, we were left with a windowless brick room with no ceiling,” says McCabe. But that’s not what took the time. “The main issue was getting an upgraded power supply, which one would think would be easy in central Melbourne.”
While it might’ve been easier to simply give fans more of the same, McCabe says he wasn’t tempted to just add another floor of Embla. “So the pressure was on to do something special.”
The wine offer is deeper, for one, featuring Jérome Lenoir and Château de Ligré bottles from the 1970s, raided from cellars in the Loire Valley. And they’re “not insanely expensive like a Burgundy from the same vintage might be”, says McCabe. The youngest member of the family is catching up fast. Lesa, Level 2, 122 Russell St, Melbourne, Vic, lesarestaurant.com.au
Flounder, hazelnut, green almond, and pear-leaf oil at Lesa.