Restaurant Guide

Embla: Restaurant review

Embla: it can get emotional. There's the despair of seeing all seats full, the impatience of watching diners linger over the last cheeky sip of rosado… and then the elation of being seated in the throng.


122 Russell St
Melbourne, VIC


Lunch Mon-Fri noon-3pm,
Dinner Mon-Sat 5pm-10pm


E $9-$18
M $16-$36
D $13-$15

"How about Embla?" If a dining companion asks you this question, you know how it's going to roll. You'll say yes, then find yourself hopeful and hungry and inside the door. An appetising waft of wood fire is part of the warm welcome. Next, most likely, a wait (drinks at the bar are a small hardship) before you're seated, on stools at shared benches, tables hugging the wall, or– best of all at the counter overlooking the kitchen, all fire-lit glow and crisp choreography. A focus on low-intervention wine carries into the food: ingredients are treated with reverence, cleverly caressed into dishes that let them shine. Whipped feta is dusted with dill powder and studded with juicy soured cucumber. Excellent sourdough is partnered with white-soy cream. A charcuterie board includes neat spins like whipped 'nduja, turning the Calabrian spreadable salami into a spicy dip. Buttery creamed corn is scattered with burnt onion crumb and citrus powder. Flavours are big but shrewdly judged, and service is poised and genial. A slightly more formal experience with elegant and composed dishes can be found upstairs at sister restaurant Lesa, but the same generous, jaunty spirit runs through both.
(03) 9654 5923
Bookings lunch only
  • Licensed
  • Bar
  • Vegetarian-friendly
  • Wheelchair access
Accepted card types:
  • American Express
  • Eftpos
  • MasterCard
  • Visa
Dave Verheul
This review was made independently for the Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide. The guide's reviewers visit unannounced and pay their way.