MELBOURNE | Freyja opened in Melbourne’s 1880s gothic heritage listed Olderfleet building in June this year. It joins sibling basement bar Valhalla, which opened last year, in bringing a distinctly “new Nordic” food and beverage experience to the city.
Leading the kitchen is Seoul-born and raised chef Jae Bang, who was previously in the kitchen at Norway’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant Re-naa, and two-Michelin-starred restaurant Daniel, in New York City, before that. Not to mention a stint at Spain’s El Bulli. Co-owner Soren Trampedach has given Bang license to do what he does best at Freyja, and the result is one of Melbourne’s most unique and memorable dining experiences.
The menu is unmistakably new Nordic, with a distinctly Australian flavour, and a low waste ethos. It’s traditional Scandinavian techniques like pickling, curing, smoking and fermenting, made famous on the world stage by chefs like René Redzepi of Noma and Magnus Nilsson in the early 2000s. The ingredients, however, are all local and seasonal. Victorian growers and producers are showcased, and native Australian ingredients feature throughout.
The menu is tight. 15 or so options for dinner, with a tasting menu that gives you a broad overview of what the kitchen does best. At lunch, it’s a more limited offering, with the addition of three different smørrebrød (open-faced rye sandwiches).
The Freyja waffle has fast become a signature dish and is well deserving of the plaudits that it’s gained. It’s a traditional, buttery Scandinavian waffle topped with Yarra Valley trout roe, smoked sour cream, and mixed herbs. Gippsland beef tartare is topped with tarragon cream, Tasmanian mountain pepper, and sweet native quandong.
Duck from Milla’s Farm in Macedon is dry-aged for 10 days, slow-cooked on a charcoal grill, and, glazed with house-made mostarda. It’s served with poached and salt-baked Ramarro Farm beetroots, and garnished with dried finger lime peel and coriander seeds. It’s one of the best duck dishes in this city. Even the potatoes, fermented and fried, fluffy on the inside and impossibly crisp on the outside, are memorable.
To drink, it’s a small selection of cocktails that follow the same philospohy as the kitchen, along with the classics, and a decent selection of local craft beers and wines from around the world. A Coravin wine preservation system means that some of the costlier drops you’d normally have to buy a full bottle of, can be enjoyed by the glass.
Call it New Nordic, fusion, modern Australian, or whatever else you like. Whichever way you cut it, a meal at Freyja is one of the most memorable dining experiences you can have in Melbourne right now.
477 Collins Street
Sat, Mon – Tue: 5:30pm to 11:00pm
Wed – Fri: 12:00pm to 3:00pm; 5:30pm to 11:00pm