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.

Gourmet Traveller (Australia) - - Contents -

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.

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