Chef Ashley Davis owns Copper Pot in Seddon, which has been plating up regional European dishes shaped by Australian produce since 2016. Messer is restaurant number two and here the chef channels contemporary Berlin. Davis is keen to steer people away from visions of lederhosen and sauerkraut. He wants to tell the story of Germanic food and have the dishes people might have come to expect, but a little more grown up.
Lunchtime diners can expect duck currywurst in a pretzel bun with sauekraut, a pork schnitty with kohlrabi and plenty of smaller snacks such as oysters and duck rillettes. Several dishes appear on both the day and night menu, such as Davis’s take on the flammkuchen, a moreish woodfired flatbread of German-Alsatian origins. Another standout is Käsespätzle, a dish of pasta-like wheat dumplings covered in cheese, here served with kale, shallot and Gruyere.
The wine list leans heavily on Germany (read: plenty of world-class riesling) and cocktails have all manner of intriguing spirits (Marionette, Maidenii, Applewood Økar) in them, including a house-made charred-grapefruit gin that’s the base of a rather punchy Australian Negroni. The first page of the drinks menu is a rewarding lesson in learning to pause for an aperitif, and not just hastily flicking to beer or wine.