Chiara, Melbourne – light, fresh, innovative Italian food
The stretch of Collins Street connecting the CBD to Docklands has become a bit of a foodie haven in Melbourne. Chefs Pete Evans and Gavin Baker have moved in to the Collins Square development with two outlets – the buzzy Bar Nacional with its excellent tapas and great wines and their take on Italian food, Chiara.
With the Persian Foodie in tow, we started off next door at Bar Nacional for a couple of glasses of their excellent house Tempranillo. Having satisfied ourselves that we could get a selection of reasonably light plates at Chiara, we trundled across and sat down in a deceptively large dining room.
The interior fit out (at night) looks moody and atmospheric. During the day (especially after work) the restaurant is much lighter and brighter and the small forecourt overlooking the road is packed with local workers lapping up some sun. But this particularly cool evening, we were ushered to a table near the windows. The menu is quite extensive and features some Italian classics, as well as other dishes that sounded a bit more inventive. We chose some mainly vegetarian options (with some exceptions) and continued with glasses of red wine.
Initially we ordered four courses and a salad. First up was the bruschetta. Sitting atop hunks of a slightly dense focaccia was an incredibly light, fresh and tasty concoction of smashed peas, herbs and ricotta, drizzled with olive oil. Even on a cool night it went down a treat, but would be a perfect dish on a warm evening with a chilled white to sip on. Delish.
Next up was kingfish. A particularly pretty dish, the combination of flavours was also excellent. The kingfish was served with blood orange segments, pickled chili and almonds. The orange was slightly bitter and a lovely foil for the strength of the kingfish.
Next up, came pizza (pictured at the top of this blog). A lovely fluffy, yet crispy base was topped with goat’s curd, potato and toasted walnuts. The Persian Foodie asked for the advertised egg to be withheld.
As this dish arrived, our hovering waiter came over for a chat. We’d already ordered a veal bolognese and a pear and rocket salad. In his opinion, he thought we’d struggle to get through them. Indeed, we were already working overtime to finish the pizza. Graciously he offered to cancel both dishes and our bursting bellies thanked him. Now that’s service!
The rocket and goat’s curd was a lovely fresh combination, aided and abetted by the texture, flavour and crunch of the walnuts. A delight.
Draining the last from our glasses, we headed out into the night. This was a high quality experience with amazingly good service. Greedy Girl will be heading back to try more.
705 Collins Street, Docklands