Bel­lota, South Mel­bourne.

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - BEL­LOTA: REVIEWED BY DAN STOCK 181 Bank St, South Mel­bourne, bel­

I’M RIGHT­ING a wrong that’s been a long time com­ing. Named by some of my favourite south-side eaters as their favourite south-side spot for eat­ing (and drink­ing), it’s an achieve­ment for me not to have vis­ited South Mel­bourne’s four-year-old Bel­lota un­til now.

It has ev­ery­thing that makes my heart beat faster: cured meats and oozy cheeses, classy bistro fare, and a world of wine for the drink­ing thanks to the ad­join­ing Prince Wine Store. But news that Nicky Riemer (ex-union Din­ing) is now in the kitchen here cook­ing her flavour-first, Euro-lean­ing fare was all the rea­son I needed to make amends.

This cold mid­week night, the room is filled with the easy laugh­ter and con­tented chat­ter of the com­fort­able, lived-in lo­cal, where spots at the bar are taken by cou­ples drop­ping by for a drink on the way home. Fur­ther back, ta­bles are set with the linen, hefty cut­lery and el­e­gant glass­ware for a wine list firmly pitched at those for whom spend­ing $40 on a glass of op­u­lent Bur­gundy makes per­fect, if heady, sense. Or go next door where $15 cork­age will buy you a bot­tle from the ex­ten­sive – and im­pres­sive – re­tail se­lec­tion.

It all makes a great home for Riemer’s food. Whether sub­lime spaghet­tini tossed through smoked eel and cov­ered in gar­licky pan­grat­tato, flat iron steak, sliced and topped with a pan­ful of thyme-laden, creamy mush­rooms, or a vi­brant rain­bow of beet­roots and car­rots served with ex­cel­lent salsa verde, this is happy-mak­ing food of the high­est order.

A Moroc­can b’stilla filled with veni­son and served with punchy mus­tard fruits is an el­e­gant twist on a clas­sic, as is the del­i­cate harissa heat to king­fish topped with tiny onion pickle.

Se­vice is switched on in a ca­sual man­ner, while the court­yard is beg­ging for af­ter­noon oys­ters and bub­bles. Yep, I can see why so many love Bel­lota.

FROM TOP The el­e­gant din­ing space, and the med­ley of beet­root and car­rot.

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