Some people have strange hobbies. And I came across a particularly strange hobby when I visited The Estelle and discovered that one of the owner’s family friends knits smallgoods. As in, create objects d’art like sausages and a leg of lamb from knitting needles and wool!

The Estelle is a quirky bar/cafe in the vintage shop-baby store-second-hand bookstore strip of gentrified High Street. On entry I was greeted by the sounds of melancholy country and western (eg ‘You broke my heart, my lonesome heart, on the praireeeee……) and seated myself at one of the very comfortable vinyl seats. That’s when I spotted the knitted meat, hanging from butcher’s hooks backed against pastel tiles. The outdoor area, a throwback from a kitsch 70s garden party, was already occupied.

The clientele seemed to consist predominantly of hip youngsters dressed in penny loafers (girls) and battered Converse (boys) and the atmosphere was one of relaxed uber-quirkiness.

The lunch menu (hidden in a vintage cookbook) doesn’t take the quirky theme too far though, with familiar ingredients such as the daily carnivorous or vegetarian toastie to a roast pumpkin and saganaki salad. I decided to go down the safe route with a steak sandwich with the lot ($20).

Lunch was served as an open sandwich consisting of smoky grilled bread smeared with sweet relish, a thin slice of liberally peppered beef (bavette?), a perfectly fried egg, slivers of crispy pancetta, frilly lettuce and tomatoes. My Laguiole knife (nice attention to steak-cutting detail) sliced through the meat as if it was butter – hallelujah, no tough meat! An excellent rendition of a classic sandwich overall.

I like the look of their dinner and breakfast dishes as well, particularly as they advocate nose-to-tail eating, so if anyone has eaten those menus I’d love to hear your thoughts…

For more Northcote quirkiness, check out Penny Farthing Espresso and Palomino.

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