The interior may be ultra-modern at Northcote’s Camus, but there’s something about the service here that makes you feel like you’re part of the family. Maybe it’s the Algerian heritage, maybe it’s the smiling face of chef, Pierre Khodja, peering out at you from behind the pass. Or perhaps it’s the European-dad-like dating advice he provided to us gals when we visited. But that’s another story…
Khodja combines his classic French training with his Algerian roots to deliver a shareable menu at Camus that touches on all aspects of the Mediterranean. We try dishes like oxtail and scallops, which brings back memories of tapas bars in Barcelona, as well as a traditional slow-cooked goat tagine, with onions and apricot.
Elsewhere burrata is topped with za’atar, and quail and radicchio are accompanied by a unique dry fruit salad and argan oil – something I’ll definitely be back to try.
It’s a menu that speaks of an entirely original point of view in the Melbourne restaurant scene right now – and one that is 100% Khodja. “Working for others, it’s like you’re cooking with one hand tied behind your back,” he tells Gourmet Traveller. “Finally, with Camus, I get to cook with both hands.”
The only person who doesn’t get to cook, he assures us, is a chef that cheated on his partner. After all, this is a family – and us girls shouldn’t accept anything less than true love. But that’s also another story… and one we happily listened to over red wine, a perfect middle-eastern inspired souffle, and a few laughs.
There are happy entreaties for us to return, but we can assure you that after such a warm night, no entreaty was required.