Pitched as a luxury food destination for both dining and high-end ingredients, this new restaurant and retail space fails to inspire
New retail/restaurant concept Calia.
WHERE were you when the apocalypse came? Were you hiding in your shelter with your beans, bottles and zombie repellent? Or were you spending your life’s savings on gold salt, $16 jars of macadamias, four-figure bottles of whisky, wagyu and ike jime fish?
Judging by the crowds at Calia, the new high-end retail/restaurant concept that’s made its home in Emporium, there’ll be lots of the latter.
Taking over the similarly themed, if more accessibly priced, Jones the Grocer space, the restaurant at Calia serves a menu created by Michelin-starred chef Francisco Javier Araya (of Tokyo’s 81 Restaurant) making a hero of those same luxe ingredients, including Robbins Island wagyu and Mark Eather’s sustainable fish.
The cutlery is gold, the glasses Riedel, the staff astonishingly plentiful and the cooking mediocre.
Alaskan king crab claws come under a blanket of torched miso mayo that, while tasty, overpowers the delicate sweetness of the crab. An even prettier dish of scallops is let down by being overdressed in ponzu that renders the thin slices limp and flavourless, and also unable to compete against slivers of raw red onion. Look, but don’t touch.
Seared wagyu is excellent, though it sits on a bed of claggy rice, and the subtlety of the wagyu is overwhelmed by the shichimi seasoning. A pallidyolked egg and flavourless ginger finish another disappointing dish.
Three minimal-intervention wines are available by the glass – though don’t expect much guidance from staff – and a couple of bottled beers from Temple augment Japanese Orion draught.
Given all of the above is available to grab and go, if you’re in the mood for a $40 steak or piece of sustainable salmon, sure come to Calia, but best cook it yourself at home.