St Blaise

Jackie McMillan
22nd Oct 2023

“Everybody knows,” Leonard Cohen croons mournfully from the speakers. I suspect, given the peculiar location of this tiny bistro, everybody may not know about it. We’re dining at St Blaise in Gizella Mall in Matraville. From Bunnerong road, there’s no signage, so getting here looks like you’re entering a medical centre. Thankfully my phone’s map guided me to a free and conveniently located carpark in the rear, or I suspect I would have trouble finding this quirky little spot. 

Opening in April this year, St Blaise is the work of chef Vedran Perojevic, who hails from Dubrovnik on the Dalmatian coast. Perojevic is fresh from a month off enjoying the Croatian summer, and putting out an interesting chalkboard menu of dishes. There’s whole meal-in-a-plate dishes like porchetta ($38) seasoned with herbs and wild mushroom powder to leave a long, earthy savoury note. It’s dished up with Dutch carrots, nicely-cooked spuds, bok choy and baked baby onions drizzled with a green oil my dining companion calls parsley, but I’m convinced has a lifted hint of mint. The same oil appears on cured salmon ($28) draped over pickled red cabbage and fennel, scattered with crushed pistachios. 

Vrganj (or porcini as we know it) also pops up in the small plates, like bone marrow ($35) presented on slightly inconvenient rock salt. The split marrow bone is blowtorched then adorned with freshly-mixed lamb tartare, dabs of whipped ricotta and dusted in porcini. Without spilling any into the rock salt, you scoop it onto thin slices of freshly made focaccia. The same bread is the delivery mode for fluffy smoked cod pate ($25). If you’re wondering about the Italian influences on this Croatian-infused menu, after being ruled by the republic of Venice during Renaissance times, Croatian culture, particularly in cities like Dubrovnik, reflects this history. And if you need another reason to visit, you can also BYO at no charge.