May 25, 2021
Shop stories: Explore Mother’s Instinct Eatery in Elsternwick Village
When Nicole Saade and her husband opened their eatery in Elsternwick Village just over five years ago, there was no doubt about what to name it.
Before his formal training, chef Themi Milikouros found his love of food and cooking in the family kitchen and learned skills and recipes from his mum. So, Mother’s Instinct Eatery was the fitting name for their new venture.
“Themi likes to honour traditional cooking methods and flavours and he uses a lot of recipes and dishes passed down from his mum,” Ms Saade said.
“I was pregnant at the time, too, so Mother’s Instinct worked as a name for the venue.”
The mum-of-two grew up in the Bayside area and became familiar with what the locals enjoyed.
“My dad ran a restaurant there and I got to know the clientele and the various families and what they liked,” Ms Saade said.
At Mother’s Instinct Eatery what they like is the hearty, home-made approach to food. The dishes are classic with a modern twist.
Fresh food from scratch
Nicole and Themi are passionate about offering quality, in-house created food.
“As much as possible is cooked from scratch. We don’t use powdered just-add-water sauces, for example. We make our own jams,” Ms Saade said.
“We take pride in that and have become known for that.
“People return again and again because the food is fresh and seasonal, and cooked with a love of good ingredients created from scratch.”
Great coffee and food makes Mother’s Instinct stand out from the crowd, she said.
A favourite among customers is the chef’s gnocchi – house-made potato gnocchi with a slow-cooked beef ragu, topped with parmesan.
“It’s very popular, as is the breakfast menu’s smoked trout,” Ms Saade said.
The smoked trout is stacked on potato rosti with roasted cherry tomatoes, a poached egg, and lemon thyme hollandaise.
Delivering great food with great service
Ms Saade loves the community feel of Elsternwick Village and understanding the needs of diners is important to her.
“There is a large Jewish community in this area and we don’t use pork much at all, so there are plenty of options. We offer vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options on many dishes, too,” she said.
And cheerful, well-trained staff are as important to Nicole and Themi as fresh produce and excellent food.
“Good service is a hallmark of Mother’s Instinct,” Ms Saade said.
“I like to hire based on recommendation, because good staff is a vital component of a good eatery.”
Reviving events and functions
The busy couple have recently welcomed a second child into their family – baby Archie – and run a second eatery, Panette in South Melbourne.
“Life is certainly full,” Ms Saade said.
“But we are happy to be bringing our businesses back to life again after the shutdowns. We have another head chef in Mother’s Instinct now.”
The eatery has also restarted its function rooms offering, with an event space for up to 100 or an intimate area for a more private dinner.
Visit the eatery
Shop 3, 221 Glen Huntly Rd, Elsternwick
Phone: (03) 9523 9989