When it comes to sky-high dining in this city, Vue de Monde has been the name to know for 12 years now. But it could be time for it to share the limelight, following the opening of Atria, 80 floors up at the new Ritz-Carlton hotel near Southern Cross Station.

Executive chef Michael Greenlaw – who previously worked as a chef at Vue de Monde himself – oversees the whole hotel, not just the restaurant. He came on a full 18 months ago to develop Atria’s concept and menu, and hired Mark Best – one of Australia’s most respected and decorated chefs – to help with recruitment, introductions to suppliers, equipment advice and other back-of-house stuff.

“[I] had a blank slate, so I thought of what would be the best for Melburnians. There was no discussion of what’s best suited for a hotel guest or a certain demographic,” Greenlaw tells Broadsheet. “The Ritz-Carlton helped me bring my idea to life, essentially.”

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That idea feels a bit like Rockpool in the sky, with added texture. Which is to say, an à la carte menu that encourages cold seafood to start, followed by the best-quality steak money can buy (Icon, O’Connor and Blackmore) cooked on a woodfired grill.

The texture mostly comes in the form of vegetables: snacky artichoke cigars, a butternut pumpkin and turnip terrine entree, a main-sized serve of wood-grilled lion’s mane mushrooms. Another interesting dish sees a fragrant pho-like wallaby broth poured over raw wallaby slices, braised saltbush and pinches of foraged herbs, such as native river mint. (And don’t sleep on dessert.)

Greenlaw, a hobby spearfisher and free diver, also has a passion for lesser-known fish and seafood. He wants diners at Atria to forgo familiar, over-fished species such as whiting, flathead and snapper, and embrace the likes of Victorian longsnout boarfish, silver trevally and grass whiting, which appear in a daily crudo with white soy and olive oil.

“There’s a lot of wonderful things right here, which we can literally see out the windows of level 80,” he says. “And I love to show guests around. I can point to Williamstown, where there’s abalone. Or Altona, where we’re getting short-spined sea urchin [a pest that degrades local reefs].”

Head sommelier James Tarkasis likes to show guests around too – from Portugal to Austria and right across Australia. His list, compiled with drinks manager Rosie Kim, doesn’t try to collect every back vintage from every grand cru. Classic leaning and organised by varietal, it’s focused while still providing by-the-bottle options – from $80 to $16,000.

Upon arrival, though, a cocktail feels like a necessity. As at neighbouring Cameo, Michael and Zara Madrusan (who own the Everleigh, Heartbreaker, and Bar Margaux) designed the menu.

Across eight signature cocktails, they’ve leant into native ingredients such as lemon myrtle and pepperberry – a departure from their usual wheelhouse of golden age cocktails like the Martini. The couple say the Atria R&D revealed a whole new world of drinks to them, and these are some of their proudest creations to date. Pick your fave, then lean back and take in the spectacular view.

“It changes so dramatically,” Greenlaw says. “There’s those beautiful hot air balloons [in the early morning]. They’re what feels like about 20 metres out the front of the windows, and sometimes there’s up to seven. Sometimes you see the storms rolling in, or there’s a lightning storm, or you see the rain flowing over the Dandenongs.”

Level 80, 650 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
(03) 9122 2858

Daily midday–2.30pm & 6pm–11pm