I’d love a dollar for every time I’ve heard a fellow Baysider bemoan the lack of hip and happening dining options south of St Kilda. I’d probably have to pay back half, though, for the number of times I’ve said so myself.
And friends know my usual response to dining locally: if it’s local – you choose. If you want to go somewhere great, be prepared to head up Nepean Highway.
The landscape improved when former Arts Centre food and beverage manager Duncan Thomson opened Ebenezer Coffee & Wine Bar late last year, juggling the balance of a wine bar that does good breakfasts with an upmarket three-nights-a-week dinner offering.
The arrival of head chef Rupert So (ex Nobu, Cumberland Lorne Resort) two weeks ago will add pizzazz. We got a sneak peek when he showcased his style at an introductory wine dinner in his first week, rattling off an impressive medley with matched wines by Warramunda Estate in the Yarra Valley. The star was an exquisite duck kromeski (croquette), served in a sealed preserving jar that opened to release whirls of fragrant apple smoke. There were delighted noises around the room as diners, sipping on pinot, released the fumes.
Classic combinations such as scallops and celeriac puree, and a luscious wagyu rump cap in a velvety pool of spinach puree stopped short of being cutting-edge, but showed enough finesse to keep Baysiders happy.
The classy décor at Ebenezer – tan leather banquettes, art-deco-style lighting, brass fittings and distressed mirrors has earned local gratitude too. Pavement seating beside Beach Road adds another dimension, as do an impressive all-Victorian wine menu and a new “cellar door” licence that allows for some hip late-afternoon wine-tasting sessions.
There are a few other Bayside places on the right track, and a new Asian fusion joint I have my eye on. Pretty soon I won’t have to drag anyone up the highway.
615 Balcombe Road, Black Rock