Nicky Riemer, Head Chef

 

Top chefs Danielle Rensonnet and Nicky Riemer switch stoves

  • Roslyn Grundy – GoodFood

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Two of Melbourne’s best female chefs are on the move.

After five years at South Melbourne wine bar Bellota, Danielle Rensonnet is leaving to take charge of the cafe at Paul Wilson’s multi-pronged Prahran market project, Wilson & Market. And stepping into her clogs will be Nicky Riemer, who closed her Richmond restaurant Union Dining in February.

Rensonnet says that after years of working nights, the daytime-only gig will be a complete lifestyle change. She’ll get in training for the breakfast shift by setting an early alarm during a brief break between jobs.

Wilson says Rensonnet (whose CV also lists the now-closed St Jude’s Cellars and Andrew McConnell’s Three One Two) will bring substance and maturity to the kitchen when she joins in early May to craft a mostly-vegetarian menu with a farm-to-table outlook.

Riemer, who joins Bellota after Easter, is excited about returning to work after almost two months’ break. “I’ve started to get itchy kitchen feet.”

She says the brief from owners Michael McNamara and Alex Wilcox was simple: ”We love your food. Do what you want.”

Wine-friendly European dishes are Riemer’s stock in trade. She previously headed the kitchens at the Melbourne Wine Room and Langton’s Restaurant & Wine Bar before opening Union Dining with front-of-house pro Adam Cash, now at Source Dining in Kyneton.

Wilson & Market’s cafe is expected to open on April 18, and the 120-seat brasserie and wine bar by mid May. Phase one, takeaway outlet Mr Wilson’s Tuckshop, opened last month.

 

New Years Eve 2016

Bellota will open this New Years Eve with a special set menu with a glass of Vilmart Grand Reserve on arrival. Following the fantastic fun had by all for NYE at Bellota in over the last three years, we are hosting a special degustation, Five course dinner menu designed by chef Danielle Rensonnet for $120.00 per person.

nye-bellota

The full range of wines from Prince Wine Store will be available, so this NYE make it a special one with some great food amazing wines right here in South Melbourne.

Menu
Glass of Vilmart Grand Reserve on arrival

Moonlight Flat Oysters & Salumi to share
Lobster Tail – Bisque sauce, smoked tomato, sorrel
Spatchcock – Caramalised witlof, bois boudran, fingerling potatoes
Cheese to share
Poached peach – Blood orange curd, raspberries, meringue

~Vegetarian, Pescotarian & GF menus available on request~

Bookings for this even are strictly limited to place please contact Bellota on 9078 8381.

2015 MFWF Restaurant Express

Bellota kicks off the #MWFW with Restaurant Express $40 lunch.
2 courses including -
Squid, sobrasada, salsa verde, fennel, black garlic
&
Grilled lamb cutlets, escalivada, basil
matched with a glass of Tenuta Il Palagio Chianti.
Bookings only, Tuesday – Friday.
info@bellota.com.au +61 3 9078 8381

John Lethlean: The Australian

Octopus photo

Bellota, Melbourne, becomes a hybrid experience under Danielle Rensonnet

 

THE AUSTRALIAN NOVEMBER 15, 2014

CURTAINS of cured legs. Walls of dried/smoked sausages, all shapes and sizes. Streets running with blood, soon to be turned to that most elegant of black puddings, morcilla…

Wandering Spain, you really do start to wonder if there are any live pigs left out there at all. The curing and consumption of their meat is nothing short of a national obsession. And the pinnacle, jamón ibérico de bellota, is from pigs that roam oak forests and eat only acorns during their final, wild romp before heading you know where.

Now, Acorn wouldn’t be a bad name for a restaurant. Cute-ish; laden with proverbial meaning. But its Spanish translation, Bellota, is a whole lot sexier. And this place is as close to an Old World eating and drinking experience – calling it a restaurant seems too limiting – as you’ll find in the New World.

Bellota, a small place in South Melbourne where I left a little of my heart the other night, is the kind of hybrid experience you could only find outside Europe. It’s really all about the sensibility rather than a specific culture, and wine (naturally) plays a huge part. Because Bellota is an extension of a very good wine shop next door, and indeed is run by the same enthusiasts. And from the decor to the attitude, they’ve done a convincing, cliché-free job of expressing the sum of their European wine experience in a local place to enjoy the stuff with quality food, regardless of the portion.

At Bellota they want you to buy a glass of wine first, and then, maybe, consider a snack, or perhaps the menu proper. But only after you’ve talked wine with someone knowledgeable, not up themselves at all, and tried something new (taste, glass or demi-carafe). I’d like to live next door.

Now here’s the controversial bit: serious wine people know a lot more about quality food than most restaurateurs. They travel more, eat better, often have more money to do so. Bellota reflects that knowledge base particularly well.

The food is excellent, from the baguette with butter in a metal basket (did you read that Perth, Brisbane?) to the French fries that are exactly what they’re supposed to be, and everything in between. Bistro food at its most simple, unshackled best.

There’s a serious collection of sliced-to-order salumi, of course, plus other charcuterie. Bresaola is served with pickled mild green chilli, French beans and yellow pepper in olive oil, smart on a board with Bellota-branded paper.

Smoked octopus comes as a kind of “salad” with salsa verde, diced confit tomato, sorrel and black garlic mayo with shredded sorrel. All lively.

You want a main as an entree? Easy. Orzo is jumbled with spanner crab and baby zucchini with their flowers, with a little fresh tomato; spaghettini is tossed with fresh tomato, fennel, dill and smoked mussels. Sharp flavour edges are honed, making this great wine food.

Grilled spatchcock with light chicken jus and Jerusalem artichoke is in the same camp, carefully executed; ditto for a piece of Wagyu bavette, quickly grilled, rested and served with anchovy/thyme butter, fries and a leaf/radish salad. Simple as hell, but thought through and sold at sensible prices.

The arrival of chef Danielle Rensonnet earlier this year has amped the food here. She proves it with a simple, but oh-so-perfect crème a la Cassonade – like a crème brûlée but with a crumbled praline topping – augmented with dense, ruby-red rhubarb. $12.

We drank wines by the glass all night. Great staff who never up-sold on any brief. Golly, this is a fine team. And ultimately, the name Bellota is a kind of by-word for “quality”. It works at every level.

 

Address: 181 Bank St, South Melbourne

Phone: (03) 9078 8381

Web: bellota.com.au

Hours: Lunch, dinner, Tue-Sat

Typical prices: Antipasti $12; mains $30; desserts $12

Summary: Pig out

Like this? Try… 10 William St, Sydney; Proof, Adelaide

Stars: 4 out of 5

The Age Good Food Guide 2015 Awards winner

STOP PRESS

The Age good food guide 2015 BEST SHORT WINE LIST – BELLOTA, SOUTH MELBOURNE

For a list of fewer than 100 bottles, perfectly pitched to the restaurant’s style.  An inspired addition to Prince Wine Store, one of Melbourne’s leading wine retailers, Bellota has become the go-to place for wine discovery and adventure. Coming in at just under 60 wines, with no bottle over $165, the largely international wine list punches well above its weight due largely to the 22 wines poured by the taste (90ml), glass (150ml) or carafe (500ml), opening up all kinds of vinous adventures.

Michael Harden: Gourmet Traveller

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“It could easily have been a dog’s breakfast. Three owners of a venerable independent bottle shop (Philip Rich, Michael McNamara, Alex Wilcox of Prince Wine Store) decide to open a wine bar next door to their successful business despite having minimal hospitality experience. They invite the owner-chef of a small Fitzroy wine bar (Brigitte Hafner of Gertrude Street Enoteca) to consult on the food and the owner of a singular neighbourhood bar in Carlton North (Gerald Diffey of Gerald’s Bar) to give them a hand with the décor. They then plonk all these elements together in a starkly modern two-storey concrete box crouching behind an original Victorian terrace façade in South Melbourne and throw open the doors.

That Bellota, the result of all this Frankensteinian patching together of assorted elements, has emerged with only the occasional dropped stitch or loose thread is marvellous in the true sense of that word. The marvel is not so much because all the players involved here have come up with the goods (their track records speak loudly for themselves) but that the whole has so emphatically delivered on the promise of the sum of its parts. Even better, it’s done so in a refreshingly reserved and modest way. Far from feeling like the latest glitzy star in the Melbourne dining firmament, Bellota feels like it’s been around – and could be around – forever.

Much of this appealingly calm and experienced vibe comes from the ease with which the food and the wine sit together. Prince Wine Store has a hefty, somewhat intimidating cellar of 3,500-plus labels riddled with benchmarks just through the glass doors linking Bellota and bottle shop, all available for consumption in the wine bar ($15 corkage on bottles under $80, corkage waived after that) it would be easy for a kitchen to get stage fright. But Hafner (a regular Gourmet Traveller contributor) and Stephanie Britton, her former head chef at Gertrude Street who now fronts the stoves at Bellota, hold their nerve.

Understanding that restraint, simplicity and well-pedigreed ingredients are the best response when faced with a deep lake of good booze, they deliver a menu bursting with great wine-friendly Euro bistro flavours that neither scare nor bore the horses, instead keeping them both interested and willing to hand over $30 for a glass of 2011 Giaconda chardonnay or $18 for a 2010 Domaine Coursodon Saint Joseph.”

Read more here.

The Epicure review

Larissa Dubecki recently gave us a rave review in Epicure. You can read the full review over here.

Bellota Epicure

Bellota’s European heart extends to smoked eel rillettes flecked with dill and topped with a yellow cap of fat, with oiled slices of charry ciabatta and a jammy beetroot pickle. Or gin-infused kingfish, a soft bruised pink, done like gravlax with the same sticky finish, customised with coriander and lime creme fraiche and a pile of avocado and blood orange that makes the fish sing.

Or pasta. Thick spaghetti made in-house, sweet spanner crab, good-quality olive oil, parsley and – very important – a bold hand on the garlic. The minute steak is also a corker thanks to the full-flavoured beefiness of the grass-fed scotch fillet and the unapologetic puck of herby butter melting into it.

“It’s great. Fuss-free. Trick-free. Bellota is a classic case of great produce, presented simply. Remember that? It’s true what they say about fashion. Everything old is new again.”

THE LOW-DOWN

The best bit The fabulous wine selection
The worst bit Getting a table at peak hour
Go-to dish Potato and onion tortilla with culatello, $10

14/20

Bellota in Broadsheet

Broadsheet popped past recently, here’s a little bit of what they had to say and you can read the full article here.

broadsheet bellota

“Set in a classic Victorian building, the Bellota Wine Bar is a stylish extension of the neighbouring Prince Wine Store, which boasts over 3500 bottles that customers no longer have to take home to enjoy. Buy a bottle and slip beneath the archway into the small, intimate space with a distinct European sensibility, courtesy of wine experts Philip Rich, Michael McNamara and Alex Wilcox.

There is an ever-changing selection of wines on offer by the glass, taste and half carafe, which can be enjoyed at the bar, tables or in the light filled courtyard.

The liquor shelves are well stocked and a large marble bar features the fresh daily seafood selection. An assortment of charcuterie and cheeses compliments a simple all-day menu including snacks and antipasti plates”