Etta is a new restaurant close by where we live, but we have Tash to thank for alerting us to its opening and booking us in to try it out together. While a couple of newspaper articles have insisted that it's not fine dining like the co-owners' past businesses, we think Etta looks pretty fancy! There's a sparkly bar up front, a dimly lit dining room out back, seasonal ingredient-focused menu at special-occasion prices, and excellent service throughout. We saw plenty of veg-friendly dishes listed across the menu, but agreed to put ourselves in the chef's hand for $60 per person.
Another signifier of fine dining is starting a meal with the best bread and butter. Etta delivered soundly on this, with crunchy-crusted pillow-soft sourdough and a memorable burnt butter that could just about be served for dessert. Rather, it was served with some refreshing pickled vegetables and a lovely macadamia-based condiment; the cabbage was sprinkled with a furikake that reminded me happily of Twisties. This appetising spread was a meal highlight for me.
Our second course comprised three dishes: a smoky beetroot carpaccio arranged over miso chimichurri and walnuts (above left), Michael's favourite tamari-roasted buttercup pumpkin sprinkled with sunflowers and dill (above centre), and new season peas with stracciatella and Sichuan (pepper, I assume!).
The third course of savoury dishes was just a little heftier: Tash's favourite mushrooms la greque on a smoked tofu puree (above left), fettucine with globe artichokes, hazelnut and sage (above centre), and a side of green asparagus seasoned with furikake (less Twistie-flavoured here).
For dessert, we were served roasted banana icecream with coconut mousse, jelly and a salty peanut-coconut crumble. Roasting meant the banana flavour was concentrated and a bit much for Michael, but I enjoyed it very much; the salted peanut crunches in the crumble were what made this dish special.
This was a meal of high quality and high consistency, as demonstrated by our differing favourites; it was only our individual ingredient hang-ups (rubbery mushrooms for me, bananas for Michael) that occasionally disrupted our enjoyment. Since a lot of dishes contained dairy we're unsure what a vegan menu might look like, but the flexible 'leave it to us' option and the enthusiastic use of vegetables (and a bit of tofu) leave us optimistic. We reckon coeliacs will do well too.
Service was eager and accessible whenever we needed it. We feel similarly eager to return with the change of the seasons and discover more of what Etta can do.
60 Lygon St, Brunswick
Accessibility: The entry is flat and there is one step up from the bar area to the dining area. Tables are moderately spaced and lighting is quite dim. We received full table service. Toilets are unisex and spacious, but we didn't notice handrails or other mobility aids.