Disclosure: I was invited to dine as a guest of duNord
There are francophiles, but surely in this day and age, with Noma leading the charge of brining Scandinavian cuisine and culture into the mainstream conversation, there should be a term for those who love all things Scandinavian.
Beause Melbourne sure be loving all that Northern European goodness at the moment, with many a cafe ditching the hipster warehouse, and gravitating towards the clean Scandinavian aesthetic, a love of foraging more prevalent than ever, and plenty of Melbourne restaurants that take inspiration from the restaurants and cuisine and bring a twist of it here.
And then we have duNord, who bring the Scandinavian love in all the way, with a totally Nordic menu that has me absolutely salivating over my iPhone screen whenever I see their pictures pop up on Instagram.
I popped in on a cool Thursday evening to join a handful of other bloggers to sample the new winter menu and was quite surprised, but also pleased, to see the place bustling away with people tucking into a cocktail or three.
It's a cosy environment, with lots of light wood, a touch of greenery here and there and aesthetically simple details like the lamp shades.
We're quickly greeted by Thomas Kiltorp, the owner, and a Rose Hip Collins, made with vodka, rose hip syrup (made out of a jam they make that's reduced to a syrup), ginger ale and apricot liqueur. It's pretty dangerous, light and not overly sweet, meaning it's simply much too easy to drink! There's not just a focus on seasonal food, but also seasonal cocktails at duNord, meaning that the team endeavour to use seasonal produce and fruit in their cocktails, changing up the menu with each season. The current cocktail menu had some rich and hearty looking goodies on it, which I for one am certainly keen to get back to try!
When head chef Matti Fallon pops these bouquets on our table, we're a little puzzled until he tells us that we can eat all of it! Truly reflecting the spirit of foraging, these bundles included salt and vinegar 'branches', which are a dark rye bread, cabbage, sorrel flower, saltbush and dill cream at the bottom. Although it was slightly novel to be munching on flowers, it was interesting how different each of the plants tasted, a mix of a light bitterness and freshness, with the crunchy branches giving a kick of salt.
After our cocktail and edible plants, we moved into the 'Back Pocket', a space tucked out at the back of the restaurant, which would be ideal for hosting events, where an intimate dinner setting awaited us.
Matti explained that at duNord, they endeavour to be as authentic as possible, using the old school Nordic techniques, to inspire new presentations and executions. Think smoking, pickling and all that good stuff.
Ocean trout, cured in white wine and Champagne, served on top of a linseed and caraway wafer with a Chardonnay and buttermilk emulsion was simply stunning, with an interesting array of texture and flavour. I love the flavour of trout, so couldn't get enough of this, especially on the nutty and crunchy wafer.
The applewood smoked herring with potatoes, is very classically swedish. What Matti's done with it is cover it in pork skin, and include a puree made of the wild cabbage foraged around Northcote and Fairfield. It's gorgeously aromatic, a gentle smoke mingled with the heavenly richness of pork. The crumbing was lovely and crunchy, and the herring sweet, although picking through the bones was quite a challenge (I ended up eating most of them anyway…). The foraged cabbage puree was exceptional, intensely smooth and adding a refreshing herbaceous flavour to the rich protein.
Our next dish was comfort food, Scandinavian style. A duck and bacon pyttipanna (kind of like a Scandinavian hash with potatoes as well) with onion and rosehip emulsion came hidden underneath a couple of purple cabbage leaves and topped with an egg yolk (traditionally a fried egg) bringing a bit of sexy yolk porn action. This was definitely hearty, and delightfully simple in flavours, tasting a bit like breakfast with duck added in. Can definitely see how this might transfer to a simple family meal quite easily, but love this dressed up version too.
We wrapped up with a beetroot pannacotta, sitting on top of a vividly coloured beetroot sherbet. I've forgotten what the powder is, but it provided a bit of a fizz in the mouth, not as strong as pop rocks, but somewhat similar. I really enjoyed this dessert, with the natural sweetness of the beetroot propelling the flavour, it was quite fresh and not overly sweet.
Before we could leave though, Matti Fallon put us through our paces and with an array of foraged herbs and condiments, had us competing against each other to see who could plate the best! Lots of negative space and very gentle touch by Maggie had her take first place, although quietly I still quite liked how my plate looked (maybe I could be a chef….? Or not…)
It had been a most enjoyable evening, and I enjoyed exploring some Nordic tastes and textures, my only niggle being that it did take a while for the food to come out, with a few rather noticeably long waits between dishes.
Otherwise, I'm certainly planning on popping back in, to see what's new on the cocktail menu and have more of that beetroot pannacotta...
367 Little Bourke Street
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