Sometimes duck is just duck: bird on a plate. But when chef Joe Grbac is cooking duck it's a shrewd but tender honouring of produce, a showcase of flavour matches and a sensitive mastery of cooking techniques that ensure the bird is conversation-haltingly delicious.
It's a long, long way to Santorini but it's not far to McCrae where a passionate evocation of Greek island life is drawing diners for mezze and feasts, christenings and work parties and, above all, easy, breezy vibes served with professional poise.
There’s often a sweet spot in the life of a restaurant, a time around nine months to a year after opening, when it hums so hard it sings. The kinks have been ironed out, tweaks made, the kitchen and waiting teams finessed, and the restaurant becomes the place all involved want it to be. That’s Ramblr right now.
The usual yum cha narrative goes something like this. You wake on a Sunday morning feeling shabby, perhaps unaccountably, possibly for sins well remembered. Dumplings call and fried calamari and, if you’ve grown up with them, chicken’s feet, too.
Sometimes a restaurant’s trappings are so many layers of distraction. At ESP, they serve to shine an ever more focused light on the food. Yes, there’s crisp service and excellent, interesting wines. Yes, you’ll be cosseted in a gleaming, comfortable dining room replete with gorgeous furniture and tableware. And yes, these accoutrements are all profoundly enjoyable. What you don’t get is smoke and mirrors. This is a chef’s restaurant and the trappings are there to support the sublime efforts of the kitchen.