From pasta to souvlaki to a decent glass of wine in Prahran, try these three new venues we've had our eye on this week.
Ramblr, South Yarra
Another step towards resurrecting Chapel Street's culinary image, Ramblr keeps the décor theatrics low-key (timber furniture, polished concrete floor), concentrating instead on sharp service, a good time wine list and robustly flavoured well-cooked food from co-owner/chef Nick Stanton (Leonard's House of Love, Nieuw Amsterdam). There are crunchy, punchy kimchi and cheese toasties, nicely salty pig's head fritters, casarecce pasta tossed with mussels, chilli and bottarga and a very good roast chicken served with a halved smoky grilled leek and a rich garlic cream. There's flair in the cooking but Stanton never gets carried away, keeping in mind both comfort and the short, sharp Matt Skinner-written wine list that favours small Aussie producers working with interesting varieties and blends.
Ramblr, 363 Chapel St, South Yarra, (03) 9827 0949, ramblr.com.au
Kalimera Souvlaki Art, Oakleigh
Kalimera Souvlaki Art's souvlaki, pita bread and Greek salad.
It's not hard to track down a souvlaki in Oakleigh given the concentration of Greeks living there, but for those after the authentic deal, made with pork, not lamb, Kalimera Souvlaki Art ( which Attica's Ben Shewry names as his favourite) is the best port of call. Owner/chef Thomas Deliopoulos migrated from Greece with his photographer wife Sylvia Gabriel four years ago, and wanted to replicate the kind of souvlaki he could get there. He's meticulous about sourcing his pork, using only female pigs so the flavour is cleaner and sweeter and uses oregano imported from Greece to season the meat. The flavour is intense, the texture slightly, attractively chewy. Deliopoulos chargrills his fluffy Greek-style pita before stuffing it with the meat, tzatziki and chips. It's like a little slice of Athens. Be prepared to queue. Kalimera Souvlaki Art, 41 Chester St, Oakleigh, (03) 9939 3912, kalimerasouvlakiart.com.au
The Alps wine and bottle shop, Prahran
The team behind Malvern's Milton Wine Shop and Toorak Cellars has done it again with The Alps. It's a handsome wine bar and bottle shop in a former milk bar in Commercial Road, now kitted out with attractive timber shelving, dark stained wooden floor, flattering lighting and expanses of exposed brick. The main seating is at stools around a raised communal table in the centre of the space. The wine list is trend conscious - there's an emphasis on small producers and organic practice - but also happily and easily straddles the natural-conventional divide. A Coravin system means there is usually something rare and vintage available by the glass. Food sticks to the charcuterie, pâté, gravlax, cheese and terrine path, successfully fulfilling its role as second fiddle to the booze. The Alps, 64 Commercial Rd, Prahran, (03) 9529 4988, thealpsprahran.com