Stella Restaurant and Bar

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Posted 2023-11-17 by Jenfollow
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Stella at 427 Chapel Street, South Yarra is conveniently a 20 min walk from home for me. Another of Chapel Street's many offerings in entertainment and eateries, it boasts four levels of restaurant and bar areas with seating in various configurations to suit your needs. Starting with the very first level underground shall we say, you walk downstairs to your private dining area where sits a huge marble table big enough to fit the knights of the round table, walls lined with wines in this cellar in the basement, and all the intimacy you need for your party or a corporate event.

The ground floor is the main level you walk into off the street, stepping over the restaurant's logo as you walk through the glass doors, its frontage on Chapel Street, and its side running down Grosvenor Street. The first thing you can't help but notice is the impressively huge pizza oven occupying its spot in the kitchen at the other end of the restaurant in all its golden opulence in this elongated space, sporting the Stella logo yet again, the name of owner Ali Mousavi's daughter. This is Mousavi's first venture as a restaurateur, but he comes from a family (his father) who ran Italian restaurants for over 30 years in the northern Iranian city of Rasht.

Venturing upstairs, and I warn you, there are a lot of stairs to climb to cover all floors of this establishment. You wouldn't dare to be tipsy and unsteady on your feet coming down those stairs at the end of the night. The next level is dominated by the bar with upholstered bar stools with back and armrests to relax into as you sit at the bar. Other seating runs along the large glass windows letting in the light and giving you a bird's-eye view of the surrounding scenery. It looks like the perfect spot you'd hang out with your mates, enjoying a few drinks and perhaps some share plates to while the time away deep in conversation and hopefully lots of laughter.

A few more steps on the highway to heaven and you're on the rooftop space, bar at one end, and the rest of the space taken up with seating and huge blue and white striped umbrellas to protect you from the sun. There's also a heater that runs along the space hanging from above to keep you warm on those colder nights so you can continue to enjoy the night sky even when the weather is cooler. The bar looks fully stocked in what has to be its most popular spot as the warmer summer weather enters our atmosphere.

Settling back in on the ground floor and occupying a four-seat table, we started with a couple of cocktails with ominous names like Da Vinci Mode and Dante's Inferno; however there was nothing to worry about as the taste test proved them to be perfectly strong and more than pleasant on the palate; just the way we like it, and imagined it would be. The Da Vinci Mode was a cocktail of burnt butter bourbon, Luxardo maraschino, maple, smoked salt, angostura bitters, sesame, and puffed rice. Which genius even comes up with a combo like that! It was smooth, strong, and fragrant. The Dante's Inferno was a blend of Mezcal, Ancho Reyes liqueur, Jalapeno cooked agave, fire tincture, charcoal and Tajin. Again, amazing combo and quite different in its embodiment, it was a more sophisticated taste you needed to get to know.

Next up the entrees of scallops with guanciale, saffron, chilli oil and citrus. This was sophistication at its best for me. The taste sublime, the scallops perfectly cooked and firm yet tender to the bite, the sauce surrounding it rich in nuances of flavours that was definitely divine and deserved mopping up off the plate unashamedly.

The second entree was a plate of Stella steak tartare, with a soft egg yolk and chives on top, accompanied by potato crisps. Again, nothing to complain about as that tasty tartare was wolfed down in a manner unbecoming to its classy surrounds however the potato crisps were at odds to expectations, and a surprising accompaniment. I personally felt lightly toasted slices of baguette, would have been a more befitting accompaniment in taste, presentation and satisfaction to this sophisticated dish than crisps - house-made or not, it just carried my thoughts to a packet of chips.

For mains, we thought we'd pay homage to this Italian-inspired menu, rather than order something like fish of the day. We went for pasta and a pizza, and no surprise, loving seafood, we got the Bucatini, spanner crab, cray sauce and tomato oil pasta; and the garlic prawn, tomato sugo, fior di latte, prawns, cherry tomato, olives and harissa pizza. The pasta was perfectly al dente as they say, and the flavours and taste of the crab were definitely present, still I hankered to see a less finely minced crab with at least a few bits of its chunky flesh rising above the pasta giving you the satisfaction of value for money and presentation.

The pizza was as expected from that beautiful big oven, with all its toppings. It was on par with all the top pizza establishments we have eaten at, and no doubt heavily influenced by a secret recipe from its familial origins in Iran. It was definitely comfort food that satisfied all the corners of one's appetite.

We had a couple of wines, white and red to go with our mains; a 2022 Pinot Noir from Moores Hill Tasmania, and a Pinot Grigio from Villa Chiopris. Mains done, it was dessert time and not feeling like anything, particularly sweet, we opted for the cheeseboard that had a slice each of blue, a soft and hard cheese served with what looked like crispy lavash. It was a perfect end to the night and a hard walk back home, bellies full and satisfied.

With 4 levels of a pizzeria, cocktail lounge, private dining and rooftop terrace, Stella is a winning combination of comfort and a touch of elegance that doesn't make a punter uncomfortable however they're dressed; though smart casual is always a good look, so leave the thongs/flip flops at home. It's got a lot of space to house a good number of customers and for all occasions, however making a booking is always a good option, especially if you have a large party or want the private space to yourself. There's a huge range of Italian wines, dessert wines, cocktails, beers, spirits, and a whole lot more.

The menu ranges from an average of $15 for snacks (oysters depend on how many you order), and share plates coming in around the same price range, except for the kingfish and wagyu option, which as you'd expect is a bit closer to $20. Entrees are $25 and above but under $30, with pizzas coming in around $20-$35. Pastas run from $27-$40 except for one; the tagliatelle, oscietra caviar, creme fraiche and cured hen's yolk pasta for $110. Now that, I'd like to taste .. maybe one day. Except for no fixed price for the fish of the day, $38-$55 are your mains of Osso Bucco, Chicken Piccata, King Island Eye Fillet and Sirloin. There are also sides for around $12-$15 for potatoes, vegetables and so on and desserts from $14-$16 except for the cheese platter which depends on how many slices you have. All pretty much affordable for a special night out on the famous streets of party-town Chapel Street. Be sure to stay in touch via social media as the website what's on page sports special events like happy hour, bottomless brunches and more, and the Facebook page great for updates.

270627 - 2023-11-16 14:01:29


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