Merricote is a smart new contemporary restaurant where the sadly departed Jules bar used to be on the southern Westgarth section of High St Northcote. It opened last week and I was keen to try it with a friend who lives nearby and who has been peeking curiously in the window watching the space being renovated.
We started with a course that is becoming very popular in Melbourne restaurants – charcuterie – and chose the tasting plate (you can order items separately or for a bit of everything choose the $19 plate below). Clockwise from left: pork, cornichons and piccalilli, beef (as I recall – the menu is not online so I can’t check) and finally the decadent duck rillette. Tiny fresh white and fennel or wholemeal rolls with herbed butter were served to accompany the plate.
The next course is called snacks, and again we chose the tasting plate with a sample of all of the snacks (also $19, below). From the front left: cauliflower fritters with yoghurt dressing, heirloom tomatoes and bocconcini on brioche, and spicy chicken balls with dijon mustard. Cauliflower seems to be the vegetable of the moment, with it appearing on many menus including Huxtable and the Alchemist in Fitzroy. I no complain – I love it!
The oustanding dish was the tomatoes and cheese on brioche – its soft texture and considerable sweetness are wonderful with the salty toppings. Alongside these two courses we enjoyed glasses of an excellent Barossa grenache.
My dining companion and I then diverged on our orders. She chose the kingfish with grapefruit entree (above) and a glass of viognier, while I ordered the pork main (below) with a glass of a fabulous Bordeaux style blend from the Margaret River region Woodlands winery.
The pork satisfied me and I needed no more than an espresso to complete my meal, but by choosing an entree instead of a main my companion was able to indulge in dessert – a deconstructed trifle that she declared to be delicious (below).
The food is beautifully cooked and is presented with confidence and flair. The service was pleasant and the wine list is mostly Australian with some excellent Victorian favourites from The Story and Jamsheed available by the glass.
The interior combines an open galley servery with a dining space of pale timber tables and chairs, and with the customary concrete floor partially covered in rugs that thankfully soften the noise such spaces usually generate. The light fittings are the now obligatory Gigibaba hanging style.
Accessibility is good as there is no step at the entrance and there is plenty of space between tables, though if I recall the entrance door opens inwards. We did not visit the back rooms, toilet or courtyard to see if they are changed from the Jules days.
At $135 for two including 4 glasses of wine and 2 coffees, I think we enjoyed a lovely meal. For such a new restaurant, I’m impressed by Merricote. In terms of menu and interior it is absolutely contemporary, and it compares well to its nearest competitor, The Estelle further north on High St. Merricote is the only restaurant of its type in the Westgarth strip and I am sure it will do well there.