Melrose is a 110-seat rooftop restaurant and bar inspired by the lavish beach clubs of Bali and Koh Samui, decked out in timber, terracotta tiling and plenty of greenery, and it would feature a retractable ceiling.
Former Longrain chef Assavakavinvong first moved to Melbourne from Ayutthaya (a small, historic city 80 kilometres north of Bangkok) to study in the mid-90s before returning to become a chef in 2007. He worked his way up the ranks at Longrain Melbourne before becoming head chef at Village People Hawker Hall in 2015, and then returning to Longrain to become head chef in 2018. Now he’s up north with the Venzin Group cooking for Melrose, a flash new rooftop restaurant and bar on Oxford Street in Bulimba.
Melrose follows Venzin’s other popular eateries including Pawpaw cafe and approachable Mons Ban Sabai Thai restaurant. Assavakavinvong dragged along a bunch of chefs who worked under him at Longrain, including sous chef Raymond Chi. They’re cooking an efficient menu with influences that range from Thailand southeast through Malaysia to Bali and Indonesia.
The bites menu may feature prawn and pomelo betel leaf wraps, steamed buns with pulled jackfruit or Moreton Bay bug, and a yellowfin tuna larb. Elsewhere, there’s a selection of Indonesian skewers (beef, sticky pork or okra), and a mains menu that may feature soft-shell crab stir-fried with curry powder and Chinese celery, and a Malaysian style chicken curry. A feature of the kitchen are three traditional tao charcoal burners used to cook turmeric-spiced spatchcock and trout served in banana leaf. It’s a style of cooking close to Assavakavinvong’s heart – he grew up learning to cook with his mother in a local Ayutthaya market while her parents ran a business making the clay cooking vessels.
For drinks, there’s a 60-bottle wine list, easy-drinking spritzes, shaved-ice tropical cocktails, and a mix of craft and imported beer.