Corella Restaurant and Bar is a modern dining venue on Lonsdale Street, pumping out sophisticated dishes accented by Australian native ingredients.
I visited with a friend on a weeknight and we decided to try the $95 set menu and also added the optional spanner crab toast. There is also a set option available for vegetarians and vegans and the a la carte menu.
The cocktail list is mostly made up of classic drinks with Corella’s signature Australian twist. Always a sucker for a good gin cocktail, I choose the Wax On made from Archie Rose sunrise lime gin with Geraldton wax, and my friend has a Native Negroni. Both are elegant and delicious with punchy flavours.
Corella is a small venue, seating only 30 or so guests, which gives it an intimate feel. The atmosphere was convivial and upbeat but not too noisy. The lighting is fairly understated – making photography a bit of a challenge – but this allows the spotlight to fall on the exposed kitchen and bar.
The set menu starts with a plate of oysters and scallops, designed to be slurped in one shot. The scallops – served with lemon myrtle ponzu and pickled chilli – are tender with a gentle citrus flavour, while the lemon myrtle vinegar and finger lime on the oysters hit with a bright zing. The spanner crab toast comes heaped with crab meat mixed with a creamy sunrise lime mayo. Paired with the crunch of the toast, it’s a textural treat.
The next medium-sized dish is BBQ leeks piled on creamy stracciatella cheese with sandalwood nuts, seeds and chilli oil. The leeks are sweet, smokey and perfectly tender, and the creamy cheese and toasted nuts are perfect accompaniments. The chilli oil adds warmth without overpowering the delicate flavours. It’s an exceptionally well-balanced dish.
The mussels with roo ‘nduja are also delightful. ‘Nduja – a soft, spicy, Calabrian style of salami – is a favourite of mine and it works well with kangaroo instead of the traditional pork. Mussels are always a slightly messy dish, so the plate of warm focaccia to mop up the juices is much appreciated.
Our server wipes down the messy evidence and we move on to the main part of the meal. The set menu offers a choice between Wagyu flank or Hapuka acqua pazzo. We decided to have the steak, which comes grilled rare and sliced with a generous topping of lemon myrtle chimichurri. It cuts like butter and the fresh citrus and herb flavours of the chimichurri contrast the fattiness nicely. A bowl of bitter leaf slaw and a dish of beetroot with goat’s milk gouda are both excellent sides. The slaw, in particular, is incredibly moreish: the bitter radicchio is well balanced with a sweet bush tomato balsamic glaze, and the toasted almonds add a nice crunch.
Considering the strong focus on native ingredients I would have liked to see more information about the provenance of the produce used. Despite their ancient history of use by Indigenous people, many modern diners are unfamiliar with native ingredients, so considering the expertise of the venue, it seemed like a missed opportunity to further educate customers. I did appreciate that the space has art by Indigenous artists on the walls, and the drinks menu had a page dedicated to highlighting the story depicted in a featured painting.
For dessert, we were served a Geraldton wax panna cotta with corn ice cream and corn praline. The panna cotta was a little too firm and lacked the soft, melt-in-the-mouth creaminess I had hoped for. And having corn in both the ice cream and the praline made it quite a dominating flavour that overwhelmed the panna cotta, but it was delicious nonetheless.
Overall the set menu barely missed a beat with several exceptionally well-designed and executed dishes. For a venue that’s only a couple of years old, they seem to have well and truly hit their stride and are punching well above their weight in terms of quality food and service.
Corella Restaurant and Bar is located at 14 Lonsdale Street Braddon. It’s open from Tuesday to Thursday for dinner from 5 pm until late and on Friday and Saturday from midday until late. Visit the website to book online and follow Corella on Instagram.