Chiara Opens in Docklands
Chiara has opened in Docklands, the latest in the Walker Evans Baker group of restaurants, and a modern twist on Italian cuisine. The World Loves Melbourne was invited to the launch, a glamourous affair with Pete Evans present, as well as a plethora of Melbourne celebs and food identities. We gave Chiara the thumbs up in terms of rustic Italian cuisine done well and in a modern appealing setting. Surely a great place to for a business lunch, group dinner or a romantic night out.
Chiara delighted with first impressions on atmosphere and fit out, with a stunning private dining area, quality bar precinct, and elegant dining areas. It sits well with the rest of the culinary group, including Bar Nacional and Long Shot nearby. As we looked up from our table in Chiara you could see the windows of the large kitchen which also includes the catering company facilities...
Head Chef, George Fowler has arrived from the UK with a stellar reputation, honed at Michelin star Pollen Street Social in Mayfair London.
The canapes on arrival, such as this Seafood Fritti, were a sign of things to come - Italian fare with a modern twist. A glass or two of fine Italian Prosecco, in fact NV Umberto Luigi Prosecco DOC was gratefully imbibed.
Gnocchi with foam...
My exposure on this image belies the dim lighting to create that romantic ambience at night. Food identities all around were imbibing the professional and engaging hospitality.
As the gnocchi with foam continued to be served to the salubrious guest list - as Gavin Baker remarked, "We are bringing you a tremendous amount of food."
Formaggio Italian varietal cheeses and Salumi was about quality ingredients and both hit the mark...
Chiara Bread was also rustic and satisfying...
Mussels can sometimes be dry and unappetising, but the mussels at Chiara with tomatoes, white wine, garlic and basil were cooked to perfection, adding to the rustic pleasure on offer.
Some of us at the table felt the Kingfish was a particular highlight, being Kingfish with pork belly, apple and caper berries. This dish was refreshing and an ideal Crudo before our larger dishes. Presentation was professional and demonstrated flair.
Chiara also delighted with Lamb Abbachio, featuring slow cooked Flinders Island lamb shoulder, artichokes and gremolata. This was rustic pleasure in a hot pot. It's hard to match slow cooked Flinders Island lamb for comfort food indulgence and Chiara delivers. A glass or two of 2012 Fattorie Parti Chianti DOCG also hit the mark.
Another spectacular dish was this Roasted Salmon Picatta featuring lemon, capers, tarragon and broccoli. The presentation was sensational and it was a pity we had to mess up the masterpiece. The fish was cooked perfectly and there was no drama with bones. Of course the skin was crispy and the flesh delectably tender.
The Cauliflower, anchovies and hazelnuts side was a dish worthy of its own acclaim.
Pasta is house made of course and the Fresh pasta with brown butter and sage was something I possibly overindulged in.
Dessert took us by surprise with a Tiramisu that included beetroot ice cream, salted coffee and Amadei chocolate. This was a dish that created great interest at our table - we loved the deconstructed take on a timeless classic.
Gavin Baker concluded the evening sharing the vision and philosophy of Chiara and invited the guests to connect with him at the bar for coffee and questions. Altogether we were impressed by the staff and quality of service at Chiara.
Chiara is an exciting addition to Melbourne and Docklands with its Italian cuisine with a modern twist and will be a great venue to take business clients. Highly recommended.