You'll soon be able to get a taste of Julian Hills' clever, contemporary fare without a trek to the Mornington Peninsula, as the chef behind the one-hatted Paringa Estate restaurant gears up to launch his first solo venture in Yarraville.
Opening its doors on Wednesday, July 18, Navi will be a small, but mighty production, with room for just 25 seats. Here, Hills will showcase his passion for top local produce, creative technique and unique flavour pairings, with a $120 eight-course tasting menu, featuring small bites throughout. A five-course option will also be available on Wednesdays and Thursdays only.
The name Navi is a Cherokee word for 'local', paying homage to Hills' father's heritage. A result of Hills' diverse experience — he grew up on a farm and has worked at a slew of acclaimed restaurants — the restaurant's offerings combine quality local produce and fine dining techniques.
In the starting lineup, expect dishes like a black garlic and trout roe macaron, salt-baked Lakes Entrance bug with a citrus and chicken reduction, and scallops paired with nasturtium and yeast. Kangaroo is cured in sake lees (the residual yeast left after fermentation) and teamed with preserved flowers and karkalla, while bonito is smoked, aged in beeswax and matched with sea vegetables and a roast bone and honey dashi.
Hills' creative flair extend beyond the food, too. Also a Fine Arts graduate, he has crafted the restaurant's original plates and tableware, in organic tones to complement the industrial fitout.
Find Navi at 83B Gamon Street, Yarraville, from Wednesday July 18. It'll open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday.