“Broadsheet has always been about curation. About creating a platform to celebrate what we love about the city.” We’re sitting at a window table in The Broadsheet Restaurant, chatting with Broadsheet’s founder and publisher, Nick Shelton, discussing the natural progression from The Broadsheet Cafe in 2011 and The Broadsheet Bar the following year, to a new endeavor that represents the best of Melbourne dining in one place.
The idea was to capture what is happening in Melbourne right now, from cafe favourites for breakfast and lunch through to sophisticated but casual dinners, with a dedicated bar you’d be happy to sit at until late into the evening. Open until August 2 and with a menu comprised of favourite dishes and drinks from 20 of Melbourne’s best cafes, bars and restaurants, every effort has been made to ensure this is a pop-up that feels anything but. Run by a team you may recognise from some of your favourite haunts, The Broadsheet Restaurant is helmed by Jamie McBride, owner of Barry and, until its recent sale, Touchwood.
The space is designed to be a flexible, and used how you want. Day time is cafe fare. Coffee by Small Batch is served from the central island bar, the room feels open and winter sun filters through north-facing windows along Gertrude street. As the day progresses, lights dim and the space becomes a sophisticated yet casual restaurant, with plenty of bar stools for those who simply wish to drop in for a drink. On that front, there are plenty of options. Between winning the World Class Australian Bartender of the Year competition and opening [Boilermaker House], Jack Sotti found time to craft a a list of cocktails available for $10. If you’re looking for the classics, the bar serves Negronis, Old Fashioneds, Martinis and Mahattans from The Everleigh Bottling Co. Stella Artois is on tap, and there’s a small list of local craft beers.
Half the space is dedicated to the bar, including a large heated courtyard, which will doubtless be the scene of some big Friday and Saturday nights. Diners waiting on a table share a glass of something interesting from Sally Humble’s tight wine list, mixing with those dropping by for a cocktail or a beer.
The menu is focused, and comes from restaurants best described as casual yet sophisticated. Think Estelle, Huxtable, Coda and Tonka. Bringing together so many collaborators in such a short amount of time was never going to be easy, but as Shelton says, The Broadsheet Restaurant ultimately exists because of those involved. “The trick is that we haven’t tried to do this ourselves,” says Shelton. “We know we can’t do it better than anyone else out there. It’s not us saying, ‘we can run a restaurant.’ We’ve collaborated with the best people.”
“I suppose you could liken it to writing a cookbook,” says Huxtable chef and owner, Daniel Wilson, who contributed red-wine-braised beef short rib with parsnip puree and persillade, and a sweet-corn macaroni cheese with smoked mozzarella and chipotle. “You’re basically giving someone else permission to cook your recipes, but I guess with a kitchen team versus a home cook, they’ve got more experience and are more likely to reproduce something as close as possible to the original.”
Georgina Damm from Damm Fine Food, with her Head Chef Glen Davies, have put together the kitchen crew, headed during the day by Adele Stevens (Newmarket Hotel and The Big Group). In the evening, Kylie McAllister (ex Masterchef and Vue de Monde) and Scott Denning, an old friend of Wilson’s who came highly recommended by Scott Pickett (Estelle Bistro and Saint Crispin), run the show. With a history cooking with Davies and Damm before, Huxtable’s Wilson knows his dishes are in safe hands. “They really made time for each chef to go down there and go through the process properly,” he says. The opportunity to take over the Gertrude Street space came up only a few months ago. By the time the team had gone through the design and development process, there were 10 days to turn an empty shell into a 150-seat restaurant. “One of the main references was a beautiful up-market restaurant in a 100-year old building in London. But this was a pop-up in a temporary building. It’s good to shoot for the best, but we had to look at what was relevant and achievable for a pop-up. You have to think about the lifecycle,” says Therefore Studio’s Alex Lake, who collaborated on the space with The Company You Keep. The solution was to use simple materials that don’t require a lot of finishing, and thoughtful use of lighting and proportion to create warmth.
“We all kept pushing each other on how good this could be. We didn’t want plywood or milk crates; we didn’t want it to look cheap,” says Shelton. “This is a pop-up that looks like a full-blown restaurant, and I think that together we’ve raised the bar for what the pop-up can be.”
The Broadsheet Restaurant is open until August 2, 2015. In 2016, it’s Sydney’s turn.
The Broadsheet Restaurant
Mon & Tue 7am–4pm
Wed to Sun 7am–1am