The Estelle is the perfect place to take a date I think. It's relaxed enough to not feel like a big deal but the menu is fancy enough to show that you care where you take your company to eat.
I took my friend Jussy there on a lady-date. Or did she take me? Doesn't matter because we were both impressed.
The Estelle is on High Street, Northcote; part of the ever-growing strip of hip little eateries and bars that have popped up over the last couple of years. It's retro decor of pink, grey and black supplies a step back in time the minute you walk in the door and the knitted cuts of meat hanging on the walls, like a crocheted butcher's shop, gives it some north-side kook.
This eatery straddles the fine line between being a cafe on the weekends but a boutique bar and restaurant during the week. The menu is a little more high-end than the usual cafes in the area and features a lot of meat. We chose a late lunch time to visit so that we could also partake in the bar menu without feeling like a couple of lushes.
Having never visited before we picked the waiter's brain about what exactly some of the dishes are, for example: 'daily pot of meat' which changes regularly and is, as the name suggests, a pot of meat served with char-grilled toasts.
We decided to start with some freshly shucked oysters and a giant jug of Pimms, full to the brim with fresh cucumber and mint. I made the controversial move to follow up with the lentil pot but was really in two minds between that and some mussels cooked in Pernod and cream. Jussy went for the meat pot which was pork neck served with apple and walnuts. The pots are deceptively filling and good food to natter over while you smear the contents over the crunchy, smokey bread. The pork neck was a little heavy on the pepper but the lentils were delightfully fresh and flavoursome with some sprouts on top for extra crunch.
We didn't feel rushed at all. The place was heaving when we arrived but had emptied out by the time we were ready to head up the road and strap in for an afternoon session at the NSC.
There are some unusual cuts of meat on the menu and the dinner options become quite decadent, which is when the lighting dims and the wine list comes out, showing off The Estelle in her nighttime glory. She looks pretty good by day but I will be back to experience her evening wares.