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Ela Carte’s Wrap of the Burbs

Article image for Ela Carte’s Wrap of the Burbs

Well, I’m off for an extended break now, so I figure I better get in a few recommendations while I can, and from a nice broad cross section of Melbourne ? so here’s a wrap of some of the newer eateries I’ve recently discovered from across the ‘burbs.

Small Plates Eltham – 9A Arthur St Eltham –

Small Plates Eltham was opened by a local family probably well known to those who’ve enjoyed a burger in the area, they opened the Burger Lounge which was wildly popular. Small Plates is somewhat more refined, with the interior d?cor right on trend ? all copper and blonde timber, it’s very pretty.

You’ll find it in the pedestrian Commercial Place, right next to some handy undercover parking.

The young staff were super friendly and enthusiastic. It’s a decent sized share menu and there are plenty of items I was dying to try ? couldn’t get to the Iranian style squid with date puree and smoked yoghurt or the grilled sardines with herbs and preserved lemon salsa.

We did however adore the Filo swirls ? mum Nancy’s age-old recipe filled with ricotta and feta, laced with burnt butter, and topped with pomegranate jewels and pistachio.

The meat that arrives for the lamb is generous, to say the least. Slow cooked overnight, it is fall-apart soft, so will be easy to pile into corn tacos with the sweet harissa, feta, tomatillo and jalapenos. Really loved this, and ended up having to take half the lamb home with us.

Arancini were great, it’s a good well priced wine list. Again, Small Plates Eltham is one of those places I’d kill to have around the corner from my home!

Juno & May – 662 Burke Rd, Camberwell ? 

Another gorgeous fitout here in Camberwell ? this is a great looking all day diner.

We popped in super quick for a feed before the movies, I loved that the staff were able to easily suggest some dishes that could speedily be prepared and see us on our merry way.

It meant we couldn’t try their very own version of the Dim Sim ? ‘chicken and shiitake, ginger, garlic, kaffir lim, sriracha & crushed peanuts on lettuce’ or chargrilled 16 hour beef short rib with chimichurri ? but it’s good to have an excuse to head back.

What we did get rushed out was a wonderfully tasty chicken banh mi ? not quite the version you’d get in Springvale or Footscray, this one on a brioche bun, with lovely tender piece of chicken marinated in lemongrass, ginger, garlic, chilli, coy and coriander root then roasted. The Pulled pork slider was as it should be, plenty of flavour, with hickory smoked Western Plains pork shoulder, rubbed, slow cooked overnight and lathered in home made BBQ sauce. Paired with a nice tangy slaw, it’s good value at $7.

What I loved was that when the Buttermilk fried chicken with chipotle mayo came out, the waiter noted that chef thought the service wasn’t quite up to scratch size-wise, so he whacked some more on and sent it out to us pronto. What a guy!

MPD – 288 Clyde Rd Berwick ?

If we are talking about new places in the suburbs that are looking the goods, I cannot fail to mention this new steakhouse at Zagames in Berwick. It is a complete knockout, I don’t think I have seen a new interior like it ? this really is one of the most stunning looking restaurants I’ve seen in Melbourne.

I don’t want to spoil it ? but think all the right lighting, leather booths, multi-level dining, and pretty amazing timber work. Once you walk inside, you will wonder whether you are in the south east suburbs of Melbourne, or New York, New York.

The menu is extensive, the prices are somewhat surprising for its distance from the CBD. There are small bites available at $10, but the entrees start at $19 and head to $23 ? that was the price of our ocean trout starter ? hickory smoked in house, sliced and served with Avocado mousse, salmon roe and rocket oil. A lovely dish, but definitely steep.

The main attraction, though, are the steaks. You’ll get a good explanation from your waiter about the different (and I do mean different) cuts.

We tried a Rangers Valley Hanging Tender ? the cow itself was a crossbreed between a Wagyu and Angus, the cut a long, thick strip from the underside; and a ‘Pope’s Eye’, part of the rump cut from very close to the bone ? apparently pretty rare to see on a menu. Both were cooked perfectly to our requests, delightfully tender.

These guys are passionate about their produce and their suppliers, which is great to see.

Be warned, you may get a shock from some of the prices on the wine list too ? but you will easily get a glass for $10 – $15.  Definitely a good option for date night, you will impress.

A steak from MPD.

A steak from MPD.

Lamb from Small Plates.

Lamb from Small Plates.