Smith Street has said goodbye to Cavallero and hello to Saint Crispin. Behind the stunning wrought iron gates now lives a warm, intimate space that has 'date night' written all over it. It would help if your date was into food, because the food here is special. The product of The Estelle's Scott Pickett and Joe Grbac (former executive chef of The Press Club), Saint Crispin is the coming together of these two on one plate. It's the food equivalent of two beautiful celebrities having children — there was no chance it was going to result in anything less than stunning.
In very similar form to The Estelle, the menu is offered in a two ($50), three ($60) or full seven course degustation ($120). Menu items are described simply with main ingredients, meaning there is always a welcomed element of surprise when your plate is brought to the table. A bit like 'choose your own adventure', tasters such as the black olive macarons and hibiscus marshmallows will be placed before you, challenging the divide between sweet and salty and making you all the more excited for what's to come.
Start with an entree of Grimaud duck, heirloom beets, foie gras parfait and cumquat or the Wagyu bresaola, quail egg, purple cauliflower and hay ash, which houses some sneaky steak tartare underneath the forest of bresaola. Mains include a butter soft piece of John Dory sit on a heavenly soft mash with octopus, red wine and chickpeas while the suckling pork leg, kohlrabi, baby leek and maple hock comes with little teasers of pastry wrapped meat.
Desserts maintain quality of the menu with equal amounts of delicate execution. Carrot, star anise, almond and honey sees chunks of carrot cake with pannacotta carrot jellies and sweet shards of carrot while the chocolate, earl grey, milk and ginger is a rich chocolate delice with a caramel and biscuit base and creamy ice cream.
The wine list takes inspiration from all over the globe. Start with NV Charpentier Tradition Brut from Champagne, France ($17 glass) and move to an aromatic 2012 Ingenue Riesling from Western Australia ($14 glass). For something red by the glass try the 2010 Home Hill Estate Pinot Noir ($14 glass) or, for something heavier, go for the 2010 Wild Duck Creek Yellow Hammer Hill Shiraz Malbec from Heathcote ($11 glass).
The food is stunning and the space is intimate and inviting. The service, while eager, sometimes saw elements of inconsistency, but, in all, a small price to pay for a night at Saint Crispin.