Raise a toast to caviar and champagne at Melbourne fine-dining restaurant Chancery Lane.
From its luxe designer livery to a menu riffing happily on the French greats, restaurateur Scott Pickett’s newest darling makes a strong argument in favour of dressing for dinner (remember that?).
The elegant inner-Melbourne eatery dives deep into indulgence, with a caviar service as well as caviar bumps (in which the beluga eggs are warmed on the back of the hand). There are silver platters of exquisite seafood and a team of waiters whose professionalism belies the industry’s current staffing shortage. A winning fit-out of the historic former lawyers’ chambers (more recently Shannon Bennett’s seafood-centric Ike Jime) is masculine and moody; the walls pale and textured, the ceiling dark and cloistered. Brass accents gleam here and there and the lighting is set to flatter.
Pickett – the brains behind Estelle, Matilda, Lupo, Pastore and CBD Thai institution Longrain, which he recently rescued from imminent closure – and right-hand man Rob Kabboord (previously head chef at Sydney’s iconic Quay) compose the French classics through a contemporary lens. An elegant sliver of pissaladière offsets flaky, buttery pastry with the sucker punch of anchovy and olive. Of the raw seafood that arrives in a nest of ice, the chewy little nubs of Storm Bay clam stand out thanks to tiny cucumber orbs and the surreal blue of sea-scented scampi roe. And for those who thought aspic was a thing of the past, the swoon-worthy smoky Skipton eel encased in a jewel-like jelly orb with an equally gooey quail egg, served alongside a pot of matchstick fries, will force you to happily reassess.
The rich bordelaise sauce that comes with pan-cooked John Dory is so good it’s tempting to order a cup of the stuff to drink. Crisp-skinned wood-roasted duck is electrified with blackberries and earthed in braised puy lentils. And the thinnest wafer of Pedro Ximénez chocolate tart is the only logical way to end the meal (actually, maybe the triumphant peach Melba is as well).
At its essence, Chancery Lane is a restaurant with the courage of its own convictions. Fanfare for the virtues of a fancy night out as well as a place to soothe pandemic-weary souls. Our advice? Dress to impress.