You can now get a taste of Julian Hills' clever, contemporary fare without a trek to the Mornington Peninsula, with thee chef behind the one-hatted Paringa Estate restaurant opening his first solo venture in Yarraville.
Navi is a small, but mighty production, with room for just 25 seats. Here, Hills showcases his passion for top local produce, creative technique and unique flavour pairings, with a $120 eight-course tasting menu, featuring small bites throughout. An $85 five-course option is 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.
While the menu changes often, 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. During your eight courses, you may also come across kangaroo cured in sake lees (the residual yeast left after fermentation) and teamed with preserved flowers and karkalla, or smoked bonito, 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.
Images: Ed Sloane