Main Road in Wellington Point could almost be lifted from another era entirely. This lovely high street is all family-owned restaurants, tackle spots and what seems like a million fish-and-chip shops. It’s the long-lost beach town of your youth, with Norfolk pines and poincianas dotted about the place, and a gentle breeze blowing off the bay.

And then there’s Citron. Giorgina Venzin’s new all-day eatery opens Wednesday and is a complete change of pace for the neighbourhood. It takes the spiffy service and slick modern design of her inner-suburban venues – Darvella, Melrose, Pawpaw and Monocle – and applies it to a light-filled tenancy on the corner of Main Road and Christina Street that previously operated as Refuelled Cafe.

Citron is a lesson in how to do a lot with relatively little. Gone is Refuelled’s slightly grungy aesthetic, replaced with a Mediterranean-inspired interior of white tiles and polished concrete floors, the dashes of its yellow branding giving it a further lift in mood. A long, wide coffee bar with a pastry cabinet now runs into executive chef Lindsay Krahenbring’s open larder section (with the rest of the kitchen back-of-house). But interior design studio Retail Collective Co has left the bones of the venue much the same. It still has the floor-to-ceiling windows to let in all that light; the coffee window is present and correct; and its outside awning has been extended. The brick pavement has been levelled out rather than replaced, and is now populated by crisp white furniture.

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The defining feature is an enormous arched doorway – you almost can’t help but wander into the venue when walking past – which gives Citron a warm, welcoming feel.

“It’s turned out better than we thought,” Venzin says. “When Lindsay and I were looking at the sketches we were saying, ‘It’s so tiny. How is this going to work?’ But now that it’s come together, it’s just perfect.”

Citron’s launch menu is a mix of approachable breakfasts and a longer selection of lunch items designed for grazing.

In the morning, you might order fried eggs with house-made pesto, roasted cherry tomatoes and toasted sourdough; a Mediterranean-style omelette loaded with tomato, feta, parsley, spinach, kalamata olives and marinated artichokes; or buttermilk pancakes with strawberries, maple, puffed grains and mascarpone. Classic Australian cafe staples such as avocado toast and eggs Benedict (with haloumi an option to replace the smoked salmon) are present and correct.

For lunch, smaller plates include a hummus served with a lemon reduction and garlic chips, squid with za’atar spice and a dill yoghurt, and salmon carpaccio with preserved lemon, capers and baguette. Larger plates feature grilled king prawns with lemon chickpeas and dukkah; whole-baked rainbow trout with preserved lemon, fennel and capers; and a roasted lamb shoulder with labneh, pomegranate and mint. A dedicated dinner menu and service will kick off mid-November.

On the drinks menu there’s a clutch of spritzes, a Mediterranean-leaning beer list, and a 20-bottle wine list intended to be both easy-drinking and easy on the wallet.

Otherwise, Citron is a neat accumulation of lessons learned, economies of scale earned and relationships built by Venzin across her other venues. She describes it as “a hybrid of Darvella and Pawpaw, but a better version”. There are Darvella pastries in the cabinet; the coffee is roasted by her brother Daniel Venzin’s Lost Race Coffee (Daniel also operates the remaining Venzin Group venues, Pawpaw Asian Kitchen and Mons Ban Sabai Thai); and the uniforms are by Azul Collective’s Marie Bobinet, who used to manage Melrose.

“It’s family-friendly, dog-friendly and function-friendly,” Venzin says. “It’s elevated and upmarket, but not too intimidating or fancy. You can come in your activewear with the dog and then come back later for a dressy lunch.”

For Venzin herself, who grew up bayside, Citron is something of a homecoming.

“It feels that way,” she says. “I didn’t think I would love it down here so much. I had the vision for the concept, but I don’t think I envisioned it would feel this good.”

Citron
354 Main Road, Wellington Point
(07) 3207 2330

Hours:
Wed to Sat 7am–3pm, 5pm–Late (dinner hours from November 16)
Sun 7am–3pm

citronbayside.com.au