THE KIND KITCHEN

THE FOLK AT ETTA HAVE ETHICS AND SUS­TAIN­ABIL­ITY AT HEART – FOR THEIR OWN STAFF AS WELL AS IN THE PRO­DUCE THEY SERVE UP.

The Australian - Wish Magazine - - FOOD -

The best way to de­scribe the cui­sine at Etta, the new eatery in Mel­bourne’s oh-so-cool Brunswick East, is per­haps to leave it to the fa­ther of Han­nah Green, one of the three co-own­ers. Terry Green, a MrAus­traliana meat-and-three-veg type, im­me­di­ately fell for the tamari-roasted pump­kin dish with sun­flower cream: “That pump­kin, I have never had pump­kin like that be­fore! It’s veg­e­tar­ian!”

The star­ring role that the pump­kin has taken on the menu – and in the mains sec­tion – means many are quick to la­bel the res­tau­rant veg­e­tar­ian when Han­nah Green in­sists that is not quite the case, rather it is just treat­ing veg­eta­bles as equal to any meat or seafood served. “The pump­kin is just as amaz­ing as the lamb we have on. And the car­rots are in­cred­i­ble as the floun­der. It’s no dif­fer­ent. We don’t see it as a side, we see it as a dish in it­self,” Green tells WISH. “We do have a big ac­cent on the sea­sons and the pro­duce we get into the place.”

Green, the gen­eral man­ager and som­me­lier, met co-own­ers Do­minique Fourie McMil­lan and her chef hus­band Hay­den McMil­lan when she was Fourie McMil­lan’s boss on the floor at Neil Perry’s Rosetta. “I liken peo­ple in my world as part of my tribe or not part of my tribe. We clicked im­me­di­ately and got along fa­mously,” Green says of Fourie McMil­lan. “She and her hus­band Hay­den had moved over from New Zealand. He had been work­ing at Rov­ing Mar­row [in Carl­ton] and got a hat within three months. The whole rea­son they wanted to come to Mel­bourne was to open a place. Dom said ‘You and Hay­den want to do the same thing so let’s get you to­gether’.”

A long lunch fol­lowed and Etta was the end re­sult: a small 80-seater res­tau­rant in a former fish-and-chip shop on Ly­gon Street that would fo­cus on good pro­duce and eth­i­cally sus­tain­able foods. Some­thing sim­i­lar to what they had all ex­pe­ri­enced at leg­endary res­tau­rant Chez Panisse in Cal­i­for­nia, whose owner Alice Wa­ters is con­sid­ered the ar­chi­tect of the farm-to-ta­ble move­ment. “It is all about the farm­ers there and that is in­trin­si­cally what we are try­ing to cre­ate here at Etta,” says Green.

The trio are also keen to cre­ate a res­tau­rant for the neigh­bour­hood. It is a big change from Rov­ing Mar­row, Rosetta and At­tica (where Green also worked for a num­ber of years). They are keen to not only have sus­tain­able pro­duce on the menu but also al­low their staff to have lives they can sus­tain out­side the work­place. “It is part of hospi­tal­ity do­ing those 70-80 hour weeks and it is some­thing that you wear al­most as a badge of hon­our,” she says. “But we are get­ting a lit­tle bit older. We just want a bit more bal­ance in our lives.”

The neigh­bour­hood has cer­tainly fallen for Etta (and the afore­men­tioned pump­kin), the res­tau­rant hav­ing been pretty much full since open­ing night in March. “We have had such an amaz­ing re­sponse from the lo­cals and we have had peo­ple come back four times in three weeks,” says Green. “It has ex­ceeded our ex­pec­ta­tions and we are pretty blown away.”

W

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