Ramblr is the second venue from Leonard's House of Love crew members Nick Stanton, Guy Bentley and John Harper, and is the perfect combination of everything we love about eating out. The decor, service, food and atmosphere are a testament to the fact that these cats know what they're doing. We're talking serious standards of technical execution and damn delicious food.
It's the little things that count, and Ramblr has paid lots of lovely attention to detail to produce a setting and menu that comes across as simple and approachable, though it evidently has a lot of thought and hard work behind it. Take the space, for example. The Nordic-inspired dining room is the result of the owners rolling up their shirt sleeves and re-jigging a former pizza joint. Then there are the sturdy rustic napkins that the server will re-twirl for you if you leave the table.
The menu features some smaller cold starters before moving on to more substantial dishes as you work your way down. And you're going to want to work your way down. Start with whipped cod roe puffs; the little mouthfuls of choux pastry are salty and slightly seafood-tasting, and served with a creamy cod roe swirl, trout roe and apple.
Next try the salt-cured trout served on soured cream — finely diced daikon add a pop of salty sour to the firm little cubes of perfectly cured trout. The calamari noodles are an example of chef Nick Stanton's commitment to the cause. A seven-day ferment produces the kimchi base and the noodles are made from shaved calamari that is then tossed in smoked bone marrow. Umami at its finest.
Pig's head fritters aren't everyone's go-to dish, but we implore you to throw all your pre-conceived ideas away. These are little rectangles of crispy deliciousness served with a French green sauce ravigote. The coating has an almost shortbread taste with rich shredded meat on the inside. Pulled pork eat your heart out.
Everyone knows what al dente is, but until you've eaten Ramblr's house-made mushroom spaghetti you really have no idea. Perfectly cooked, the spaghetti gently bathes in mushrooms, porcini stock and a sprinkling of grana padano. This is how mushrooms should taste: rich, savoury, buttery. This is what you eat after you've walked home across dew-laden paddocks in a slight autumn fog to a glowing fire and a big glass of red. This is the flavour that needs a better word than flavour to describe it. It is a glorious dish and you won't ever want it to end.
And the care continues. The wine list has been put together by wine writer and sommelier, Matt Skinner and features beautiful wines from here and elsewhere by the glass and bottle.
A lot of places in Melbourne make great food. Ramblr makes food you will obsess over — seriously. These are the kind of dishes that will spring to mind when asked about your most memorable meal.
Images: Jo Rittey.