What to order at Freyja

Published on 8 June 2022

Photo: Kingfish with desert lime, cucumber, binquinho chilli and blackcurrant wood (photo: Parker Blain).

Take an exciting young chef from Norway’s two Michelin-starred Re-naa, plant them in a two-storey heritage-listed building on Collins Street, pepper the airwaves with the term “new Nordic” and what do you have? Quite possibly the biggest fine dining opening in Melbourne this year.

Chef Jae Bang’s (New York’s Daniel, Spain’s El Bulli and Arzak) Freyja bills itself as the meeting place of northern European techniques and design, and local produce, which means plenty of pickling, fermenting and preserving out back, big-ticket proteins to share, and a whole lot of hygge in the fitout.

From behind the jewellery box facade of Collins Street’s newest darling, here’s chef Jae Bang to explain just what a reservation at Freyja might look like for you.

Which dish is quintessentially Freyja?
The trout roe waffle. We've taken the traditional caviar service with blini and cast it in a Scandinavian light. Waffles (made with a heart-shaped iron) are part of Nordic identity and culture and are traditionally served when you're welcoming guests into your home. So the waffle is showcased in this way to also welcome our guests to Freyja. 

How about a drink?
We’ve tried to incorporate as many local Australian producers and suppliers as possible with a focus on organic and biodynamic wines. We have a few Scandinavian craft beers that are very popular and we’lll continue to evolve the beverage list as the menu changes with the seasons.

I’m here for a good time, not a long time.
There are two Nordic-inspired dishes that everyone should try. The smørrebrød served at lunch is a Scandinavian alternative to a traditional sandwich. There are many toppings to choose from and with a fresh salad or side, it’s a quick, light and satisfying meal before heading back to the office. 

Alternatively, the trout roe served with smoked sour cream and a traditional waffle, paired with a glass of cold sake, is a great snack. We've also got a selection of smaller plates (smoked and fresh oysters, mussels) that are great for after work with a glass of wine. 

Got anything light and fresh?
Plenty. The kingfish with desert lime, cucumber, binquinho chilli and blackcurrant wood is a great way to fire up the palate. Otherwise, the marron with pumpkin seed, passionfruit and smoked paprika is a lovely light dish that pairs well with our fermented crisp potatoes. 

I like tasty food but I don’t eat animals.
Given we work with the seasons, a large part of our offering will be vegetarian. On the menu, we have the savoy cabbage with barley, chive and plum sour beer; the eggplant with stracciatella, sorrel and garlic; our cauliflower with ras el hanout, koji, and kaffir lime oil, which is served with a gorgeous light sauce and two side dishes of fermented crisp potato and preserved vegetables.

Let’s go big. Let’s go crazy. What have you got for me?
We would always suggest the Taste of Freyja menu – a 10-course degustation offering a selection of all our favourite dishes as it really takes you on a journey. Otherwise, we have a daily market whole fish or a dry-aged bone-in rib-eye to share that would easily serve four to six people.

And to close?
A chestnut dish with rum and raisin jam and toasted kelp, served with either the Valdespino Pedro Ximenez El Candado or the Lustau Dry Oloroso Reserve Sherry; their nutty aromas with smoky wood backgrounds and rich flavours of bitter chocolate and walnut would be a perfect match with the dessert’s rum and raisin jam filling.

Freyja, 477 Collins St, Melbourne, (03) 8688 7141, freyjarestaurant.com, @freyjamelbourne 

You might also like