Spanish-born Chef Josep Espuga has had vast international experience, including at Mugaritz in Spain and Degustation in New York. He and manager Michael Byard have recently opened up Pretty Little, a tiny 20-seater in the bustling part of Balaclava’s Carlisle Street.
There are a few tables overlooking the street and one very long communal table with settings for 20 people. At the very end is a tiny kitchen, where the whimsical chef crafts his daily changing menu.
You could start with house pickles, sheep’s yoghurt and fennel pollen. Darwin mud crab is as much of a spectacle as it is a delight: chunks of crab, nutty barley and a single plump glossy egg yolk, with a muddy earthy broth poured over the top at the table. Chunks of roasted pumpkin juxtaposed with swirls of finely sliced raw pumpkin have luscious Shulz cream, bites of cashew crunch and carrot–caramel stickiness. Slices of swordfish glisten in a glossy, sticky honey glaze, served with julienne green mango and nahm jim.
PSST! Check out the chef’s selection of seven courses for $69.