After Nan Kroll spent three years living in Chile, then returned to her hometown of Melbourne with Chilean partner Julio Forteza in tow, she noticed one main thing: the city's lack of South American dining options, especially those serving the lively flavours of Chile.
Kroll set out to fill the gap, opening the doors to her own Fitzroy North bar and eatery earlier this month. She's dubbed the warm, friendly Queens Parade space Citrico (the Spanish word for 'citrus'), nodding to the citrus-cured ceviche dishes that are an integral part of South America's food scene.
With his menu, Peruvian-born Head Chef Daniel Salcedo (Rockpool, Rosetta) is taking diners on a journey across the continent, with a shareable lineup that's big on flavour. Ceviche takes centre stage, and is currently in iterations such as New Zealand green mussels with tomato, red onion, jalapeños and corn, or the day's catch served traditionally with lime juice, sweet potato and the ceviche liquid known as 'tiger milk'.
Snacks might include the likes of orange-braised pork shoulder empanadas, chicken drumettes cooked in master stock and served with a tomatillo and jalapeño sauce, or a corn and eggplant terrine. Be sure to bring a mate so you can do justice to the selection of mains, brought to life on the custom-made asado grill. Right now, they include a 300-gram O'Connor's porterhouse sirloin, and an assembly of octopus and squid marinated in a nikkei (a Japanese-Peruvian sauce). A six-dish chef's selection clocks in at an easy $55.
In true South American form, the drinks list is equally lively, headlined by a Pisco-heavy lineup of seventeen signature cocktails. The Sandicoco, with pisco mistral, charred watermelon and Coco Lopez, is geared for summer, while a jazzed-up riff on the classic espresso martini features Pedro Ximenez sherry and an infusion of dulce de leche.
Meanwhile, a solid selection of Chilean and Spanish beers, and a largely Victorian wine list have plenty to accompany a springtime session in the restaurant's sunny courtyard.
Images: Kate Shanasy.