Hazel is a pared-back eatery that stretches over two floors of Flinders Lane’s historic Richard Allen & Son. It’s the first restaurant from the Mulberry Group, who have been behind some of Melbourne’s most influential cafes: Liminal, Common Ground Project and now sold Top Paddock, The Kettle Black and Higher Ground.
Hana Hakim of Stella Collective is behind Hazel’s fit-out. The colour scheme is soft and neutral with American oak floorboards, pale-leather banquettes, Hazelnut-coloured bentwood chairs and pink-stone benchtops. Ornate light fittings and mirrors feature on otherwise minimal walls, and the space is flooded with natural light from the large south-facing windows. It’s designed to reflect elements of the building’s former life.
The menu covers five categories: starters (which includes oysters with chicken sauce and pigs-head terrine); on toast (with toppings on oven-grilled sourdough); house-made pasta; proteins (lamb chops with chimichurri, and duck breast with aged balsamic); and sides including pumpkin with whey butter and soured cream, and burnt eggplant with basil pesto.
Be sure to order from the “On-toast” section. House-made sourdough bread is charred over one of three woodfired grills heated by Australian ironbark coals, then topped with anchovy and kefir butter; house-made fromage frais (fresh cheese), fried ‘nduja and guindillas (a type of chilli); or grass-fed beef rump tartare with creamy anchovy sauce.
For dessert there’s vanilla soft serve with smoked caramel and a cookie crumb. When you’ve eaten your way through the first layer of topping, the kitchen brings out another pot of warm caramel.
For cocktails, there’s a clever and respectful approach taken to the classics, exemplified in highlights such as the Strawberry Negroni and The Appleseed Gimlet. There’s an extensive wine list which name-checks bottles from most of the big regions.