I start today's post with a snippet of Norse mythology. We've all heard of Adam and Eve but have you heard of Ask and Embla, the Norse equivalents? Embla was said to be the first woman on earth and she was made of wood. Wood is seen throughout the Embla wine bar on Russell Street in Melbourne from the panelling to the furiously burning wood fired stove that the chefs are tending to.
Embla are now open for Sunday lunch which slots perfectly into our visit to Melbourne. It is the only time you can book at Embla too, usually you take your luck and hope that you don't have to wait long to get into the popular wine bar where the kitchen is helmed by chef Dave Verheul.
Except I am not in the mood for wine. In fact I am not in the mood for anything. I've got a headache and I am hangry. Mr NQN orders a glass of Ziereisen Gutedel. The wine list is extensive as expected and is broken up into sections to make it more digestible (no pun intended) and to make it easier to find a wine to suit your mood.
The Sunday lunch is a set price of $50 per person and includes one of their best known dishes, a roast chicken with Vadouvan curry spices. They bring us two thick slabs of fresh, fluffy sourdough bread. It's soft on the inside with a thick, crisp crust and comes with their own creme fraiche. Once I have some food my mood improves dramatically and I order some wine, a glass of Jauma A Thousand Fires.
Smoked duck liver parfait, fennel, orange, hazelnut
Next comes the entrees: a creamy, smooth and light duck liver parfait with cubes of fennel, hazelnuts and orange. Next to this are soured cucumbers with a dill and feta cream which are divine (a whole bowl of these please!) as well as a bowl of thin, lacey crisps that are perhaps a bit too lacey for anything but the lightest smear of parfait. These are great at whetting our appetite, particularly the piquant cucumbers.
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Roast Chicken, Vadouvan, Shallots with Dan's Courgette Salad and Potato Dauphinoise
Our mains arrive next and you can smell the sweet, buttery curry spices as soon as it hits the table. The roast chicken is succulent and tender and as silly as this sounds, it tastes like chicken. This is because it is a Milawa chicken. The explain that these chickens are free range and organic and while many commercial chickens are dispatched at 4-6 weeks old, these are dispatched at a minimum of 10 weeks old. The skin is salty and crispy and the half chicken is served filleted except for the small drumstick and it is lying in a bed of the vadouvan butter. I try some of the breast and some of the thigh-they're both good but I love the intensity of the flavour of the thigh a bit better.
The sides are Dan's courgette salad, a raw zucchini salad with hard sourdough croutons and a rosemary scented potato dauphinoise, which is really the ultimate comfort food. The cream oozes out as I cut into it.
Koji Creme Caramel with stout and burnt pear
Dessert is another share number (I'm not sure what happens if someone dines solo or in odd numbers) and it's a koji creme caramel, super creamy and wobbly. Koji is a mold used in sake making and gives the creme caramel a more interesting flavour and very aromatic flavour over just vanilla. It comes with a quennelle of burnt pear and stout, a little too burnt for my taste so I go back for a spoonful of the soft, luscious custard instead.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you go out for Sunday lunch often? And have you ever tasted koji? What is your favourite sunday roast?
This meal was independently paid for.
122 Russell St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: (03) 9654 5923
Monday-Wednesday from midday until midnight
Thursday-Friday from midday until 1am
Saturday from 3pm until late
Sunday from 1pm until late