That’s Nabil Ansari, a young gun chef who you may know from such establishments as The European, The Hotel Windsor, and more recently, Sunda, where he’s served as sous chef for the past two years.
Equally, you might pick him from pandemic-era Instagram, where he launched his home-cooked delivery service Ansari Indian to the delight and passionate uptake of a city in the throes of lockdown.
Hot off the charcoal grill, here’s what you might order when you next visit, according to Firebird’s newly installed chef, Nabil Ansari.
How about a drink?
Our wine list and cocktail list evolves with our menu. My current favourite is the Garagiste Cotier Serene from Mornington Peninsula, which we serve chilled.
I’m here for a good time, not a long time.
Ask the Firebird team for the skewer of the week: chicken heart, beef intercostal and other offal. I reckon the Lemongrass Gimlet goes well with any of them.
Got anything light and fresh?
The crudites would have to be my favourite dish on the menu: golden and candy beetroot, baby cucumbers, and fermented vegetables. It’s served with a black-garlic puree and Vietnamese baguette; it’s basically a DIY banh mi.
What if I like tasty food but don’t eat animals?
Definitely get a serving of eggplant curry with tomato fried rice.
Name the dish that captures the Firebird vibe.
The duck à l’orange: our ducks are dry-aged for 10 days and smoked over the hearth for five hours, and then finished off in the oven for a crisp skin. They’re served with a burnt-orange vinaigrette and a classic duck jus, and a salad of radicchio, coriander and fresh orange to complement the richness of the duck.
Let’s go big. Let’s go crazy. What have you got for me?
I love dining with a group. Get a crew of friends together, go large and try everything. Start with a drink from our cocktail wizard, Tyler. Order the charred squid noodles or the wood sate grilled prawns over bisque-enriched broken rice. The duck à l’orange is a must. For some balance, our smashed eggplant curry with charred Chinese doughnuts to tackle the sauce. Order a bottle of delicious local chardonnay to tie it all together.
And to close?
We have a hot and cold Vietnamese coffee dessert that might just blow you away. I’m a big fan of dark and bitter chocolate; on the bottom we’ve got cacao nibs, puffed wild rice, feuilletine flakes and a condensed-milk parfait. On top of the parfait, we have our hot component: the Vietnamese coffee chocolate mousse, and then we finish it off with Murray River pink salt.