Five minutes from Malvern Station at the Dandenong Road end of Glenferrie Road; 20 minutes from the CBD.PROFILED BY DE GROOTS MEDIA
The whitewashed walls, eclectic folk-art and marble tabletops of this former shop combine to give Maris its charmingly provincial aesthetic. This is the sort of casual, neighbourhood bistro dining that sits well in the midst of any suburb, and here it comes as a welcome respite from the bustle of Glenferrie Road. Mediterranean flavours feature prominently here, in well-conceived and well-executed dishes at prices that won’t stretch the wallet if you pop in for a quiet weeknight meal. This is home-style food, for sure, but each dish has been carefully thought out and structured, so that even simple dishes can present some surprising combinations.
Take the pasta dishes, for example. Comfort food at its best, but here pasta might entail carrot tortellini with nettles and cocoa powder and the risotto might be stinging nettle with lentils and porcini mushrooms. Entrees are innovative but not off-puttingly so. The steak tartare includes a smoked egg and shredded zucchini dressed with roast zucchini and anchovies, and fried onion rings on the side, making this simple dish a delicious combination of textures and flavours. So too, with a spectacular entree of smoked beetroot served with pumpkin custard, braised chicory, mustard fruits and pine nuts, which is one of the always-present vegetarian options. Desserts are equally comforting yet creative. There’s a kid-friendly menu and the set lunch offers excellent value. Throw in a relaxed BYO policy and it makes dining at Maris a reasonably priced and enjoyable local bistro experience.