Across the street from Melbourne’s strangest Art Deco Maccas (seriously, what’s with that place?) you’ll find something kind of interesting.
Melbourne, meet Citrico.
This is a brand new South American eatery from owner and first-time hospo duckling, Nan Kroll. And she couldn’t be prouder.
“I’ve worked in hospitality for a while, but this is my first place,” she says. “My friends are all so excited. We wanted to do something different, so it’s a mix of Chilean, Peruvian and Argentinian cuisine.”
Different seems about right. There’s nothing else like this in Melbourne. For starters, who else is taking a serious look at Chilean food? Let alone doubling down with a one-page pisco menu, Argentine parrilla grill and cacti from the Atacama desert? Citrico (a bit like ONDA) is a new beast: a rocking modern eatery that paints in broad South American colours.
Okay, so the food. If some of the Latin terminology stumps you, there’s a handy ‘Cheat Sheet’ glossary on the back. The menu itself is carved up into ‘Piqueos’ (snacks), ‘Abrebocas’ (small share plates), ‘La Cevicheria’ (ceviche) and ‘Asado’ (flame-licked meat). Chef Daniel Salcedo (ex Rockpool & Rosetta) has done an awesome job.
Start with a plate of the Pollito, which is like Nandos on 10-speed. Smokey grilled chicken pieces, dusted in Panca chilli, served with a squeeze of lemon and a crazy-good aji de gallina sauce. Honestly, we die.
Next, a serve of the Chonchitas: three tender scallops doused in a pisco-chilli butter (we know, we know), dished up with grilled spring onion and lomo saltado. The Pastel de Choclo are also interesting (“This is more the Chilean influence coming through,” says Nan). Think corn and eggplant terrine, layered with humita sauce, cress and charred provolone.
It’d be a crime not to try the house pisco, either straight up or frothed in a pisco sour. Citrico is rocking 17 different piscos, including two Harmans varieties from Australia (who knew?). There’s also wine, bubbles and cerveza, if you’re not vibing hard liquor.
Got a function? There’s a 40-person room upstairs (lined with the greatest wallpaper we’ve ever seen), and you can even book out the sunny courtyard out back, lined with San Pedro cacti from the Chilean desert.
Big ups to Nan and the Citrico team. They rolled the dice, but it paid off. This could be the next migration of Melbourne’s Mexican wave...
Image credit: Sammy Green