In 2019 Scott Pickett celebrated 30 years of working in kitchens. His formidable career started well before Noma came along, changing the global food conversation. That much is reflected in his restaurants Matilda and Saint Crispin, but perhaps Estelle most of all. Though the menu has an up-to-date respect for produce and the seasons, it also has a classic undercurrent. Even the simpler dishes are backed by a surprising amount of technique.
Berkshire pork is sliced generously, doused in jus and presented with a single wilted mustard leaf and shaving of kohlrabi. Hand-rolled macaroni (straight, pencil-length tubes, not mini elbows) has a halo of yellow-ish, ephemeral foam, but the flavours are classic cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper). Though it’s incredibly refined, this is food everyone can enjoy. “A touch of innovation without being scary or confronting” is how Pickett describes it, and we think he's right.
Estelle has three major areas: a wine bar-slash-waiting room with its own menu; a greenery-filled, semi-undercover courtyard; and the main dining room, defined by a striking Christopher Boots interlocking-hoop light fixture. If you want to get serious, the dining room offers a five-course tasting menu ($90) with matched wines ($60), but this format feels a bit out of place in such a lively space. And if you want some choice, a la carte is an option. A Coravin vacuum-sealed system means that many of the list’s more expensive wines are available by the glass too.
French-born sommelier Fabien Moalic, who previously held the same position at the Press Club, has a soft spot for the big-gun wines of Australia and his homeland, such as Grosset riesling, Craiglee shiraz, Jean Dauvissat chablis and Domaine Rougeot burgundy. The usual new-gen minimal-intervention wines are conspicuously absent.