It’s been a long time coming, but there’s finally movement inside the former Evida site at Henley Square. The split-level building, spitting distance from the beach, is the setting for Simon Kardachi’s newest ventures – a third Melt restaurant and a "retro fish and chip shop". They’ve been in the works for two years (we’ve been eagerly awaiting them since January), and a launch is finally slated for summertime.
Kardachi’s business partner Ben Kelly is steering the project. The two have a history that stretches back to their uni days. Kelly also worked at The Melting Pot. Their serendipitous reunion parallels that of Kardachi and Shobosho chef Adam Liston. Returning to Adelaide (and the hospitality industry) after a long stint in Melbourne, Kelly reached out to his friend and former boss to propose a modern fish and chipper by the sea. He’s since worked the floors at Osteria Oggi and Melt’s two existing locations to regain his “hospo legs”.
The ground floor pizzeria will have all the ingredients of its Hyde Park and CBD siblings, complete with share plates and an extensive wine list. The menu will be informed by the seaside setting, with “a few more seafood options,” says Kelly. He also hints at the introduction of “breakfast pizzas” for the early birds.
Downstairs, Sea Salt will turn out classic fish-and-chip-shop fare such as oysters, potato cakes and a new take on the Chiko Roll. The menu is still being fine-tuned, but Kelly promises fresh local seafood with a "unique, creative and sustainable approach". The breezy, casual diner will cater to everyone, from beach rats to corporate crowds.
Kardachi collaborator Studio –Gram (Shobosho, Osteria Oggi) is on board again. Designers Graham Charbonneau and Dave Bickmore have been charged with bringing the brief to life. “The thing that’s great about Simon’s venues is you don’t go there just for the food,” says Kelly. “You go there for the experience … there’s a vibe, there’s an energy.”
The 140-seat pizzeria takes its cues from the existing Melt sites while “bringing it in line with the location,” says Charbonneau. That means a softer colour palette – blond timber; green and white tiles; and coral-pink accents. “We’re taking some colours from the ocean and bringing them inside.”
They’ve also gutted the flat, low ceiling of the Evida era to expose the building’s original timber trusses. The standout, though, is the west-facing floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the beach. It’s the perfect spot to kick back with a coldie and watch the sun dip below the sea.
The 50-seater Sea Salt is more “overtly beachy,” says Charbonneau. “Upstairs is a bit more serious from a design point of view, it’s a bit more controlled, a bit more mature. Downstairs is a bit more playful.” Expect blue and white tiles and a takeaway window facing out to the square.
A small courtyard will feature a communal concrete bar, timber tables and a central, tiled planter box housing “as big a palm tree as our budget can afford,” teases Charbonneau. He and Bickmore will lift some ideas from their previous project The Bucket List in Bondi, which has a “similar proximity to the beach,” says Bickmore.
The push west follows Henley Square’s $8.4 million redevelopment. It’s part of a wider revitalisation of the area, which has, until recently, been left behind in Adelaide’s new-wave-restaurant boom.
“I live locally and there’s a huge gap here,” says Charbonneau. “There are a lot of young professionals, a lot of young families, and there’s not really anywhere that caters to them at the moment. I’m from Canada and we don’t have beaches. And there’s a beach right there and there’s not one place taking advantage of it. It’s mind-boggling.
“It’s not just Henley Beach but the beaches in general in South Australia are missing a bit of design input. It’s not just about design, but typically speaking, the people who are engaging with designers are also the better restaurateurs and providers, so it’s good to see that they’re starting to take an interest in the coast.”
“I don’t think it’s happened by chance,” adds Bickmore. “The council has invested in the square and that’s going to drive more interest and better operators.”
Kelly agrees: “There’s a real opportunity down by the sea. [The council] has been working hard to create a vibe down there and, not to be arrogant, but we might be the last piece of the puzzle to make it work. We’ve got that agenda, to make it an exciting place for people to venture to.”
A rooftop bar overlooking the water is in the long-range plan, if you needed another excuse.
Melt and Sea Salt will open in summer 2017/18.