Open for five years, Erling’s serves superlative food in a pretty, friendly environment. The open-plan space features natural wood, a slightly industrial vibe, twinkly lights, a long bar, and a comfy banquette that rings the room. The low-key vibe works well with a menu that focuses on seasonal ingredients and the communal dining experience. Indeed, you must go to Erling’s with someone you know well, at least well enough to dig your fork into one another’s plates.
The blessedly concise menu is not divided into obvious courses. Our first plates were exceptional: a tuna crudo with mango balsamic, Frantoio, and cucumber that appeared so delicate, I was convinced it would be a disappointment. (Surprise!) Another winner was the large pile of mushrooms set atop a creamy hillock of cheddar-and-potato polenta with sweet green peas and a Madeira demi-glace. Three further plates, one of scallops with a robust carrot-ginger purée and bacon and a second of roasted vegetables with feta and pumpkin seeds, as well as a lemon curd pot, offered more lip-smacking goodness. All of it so good — and made better by the act of sharing.
Erling’s contented neighbourhood vibe is testament to chef/owner Liam Vainola, who started as owner but has recently taken on the role of head chef. The creative, reasonably priced food with sensible serving sizes — as well as the friendly service, good wine list, and pleasant environment — means this place is always humming.