Restaurant Guide

Embla: Restaurant review

Looking for the roots of Melbourne’s current wine-bar craze? All roads lead to Embla.


Looking for the roots of Melbourne's current wine-bar craze? All roads lead to Embla. Not that this essential CBD joint with its open, wood-fired kitchen was the first lo-fi wine bar in town. But what Kiwis Dave Verheul (chef) and Christian McCabe (wine guy) have done is redefine what "Melbourne wine bar" means, particularly when it comes to the food which has always taken its cues from whatever's in the glass rather than the more familiar vice-versa approach. Verheul's cooking – veg-forward, with a fondness for pickling and fermenting – includes menu stalwarts like dill-dusted crisp soured cucumbers served with feta and brilliant sourdough bread alongside a changing roster of dishes. Think smoked duck-liver parfait with rhubarb and witlof; wood-roasted spatchcock accompanied by Brussels sprouts and salted mandarins, or a highly addictive koji crème caramel with burnt pear. All the while, service is never anything less than outstanding. Drop by to see where it all began.


122 Russell St, Melbourne
0455 122 121
Chef: Dave Verheul
Open: Lunch Wed-Sat; Dinner Mon-Sat
Price guide: $
Bookings: Recommended
Wheelchair access: Yes
This review was written independently for the Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide. The guide's reviewers visit unannounced and pay their way. To learn more about the process, head over here.