The highly decorated team at Omnia has wrapped up its six-month pop-up on Toorak Road and moved into a permanent home in South Yarra’s luxurious $800 million residential and retail development, Capitol Grand.
Stepping into the space, which was designed by Architects Eat and Curious by Design, you’ll find yourself in a room filled with light (thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows along the facade), greenery, and emerald and slate-blue tones. Further back in a second dining area, lamps and chandeliers create a moodier atmosphere, with leather banquettes and booths offset by bare wooden floorboards and exposed-brick walls. There are paintings and bronze sculptures by Melbourne artist David Bromley, and – for those who prefer to see the chefs’ dynamic firsthand – seating by the open kitchen.
Executive chef Stephen Nairn (Vue de Monde, Matilda, New York’s Eleven Madison Park) spent the last few months of the pop-up visiting producers around Victoria, and here he treats those ingredients with a light touch. “People are satisfied when they see good-quality produce cooked with solid technique and no fluff, just bangin’ flavours,” he says.
And while dishes are best described as elevated European bistro fare, Nairn’s fine-dining background is woven throughout. You’ll see it in his plating, too, on minimal crockery handcrafted by Melbourne ceramicist Andrei Davidoff. “I like things to look simple and clean on the plate but still have a bit of personality,” Nairn says.
A clean rectangle of duck-liver parfait is topped with port jelly, served with petite balls of cider-pickled pear. Steak tartare – a popular dish at the temporary outpost – makes a return with dried chilli, egg yolk and pommes gaufrettes (waffle-cut potato chips). There are also tartlets with smoked quail egg and fresh pea shoots.
The large purpose-built kitchen gives the team space to prepare more substantial sharing dishes, such as a 14-day-dry-aged whole duck for two for $94. The legs are served confit, and the breast is roasted on the crown with a honey glaze. The meat is served with a charred orange paste, whipped potato and duck jus. There’s also a one-kilogram Cape Grim rib eye for $140. Mains include roast pork belly with boudin noir (blood sausage), its fatty intensity balanced by peach and fennel; pan-fried barramundi with globe artichoke; and agnolotti stuffed with goat’s cheese.
Sides include ratatouille served in an iron skillet; pommes dauphine (crisp choux and potato spheres); and a green salad.
Desserts are by pastry chef John Demetrios (Vue de Monde), who offers his take on a Basque-style cheesecake. It’s baked until the surface is caramelised but keeps a wobbly centre, and comes with a smooth blackberry sorbet. Or try the Gascony apple pie with its towering arrangement of flaky pastry, salted caramel and vanilla-bean ice-cream.
The wine list has more than 200 new and old-world varieties – a significant increase on the list at the pop-up after feedback from customers – and the cocktails originally created by Orlando Marzo (the World’s Best Bartender 2018) remain. The 15-strong list includes a take on a Tom Collins with mountain marigold, quince and vodka; a Negroni with saffron-infused gin and rhubarb bitters; and a Royale driven by allspice and banana.
Soon you’ll be able to head in for breakfast, where you can order a croissant with house-made jam or a pain au chocolat alongside bottomless coffee.
Omnia Bistro & Bar
625 Chapel Street, South Yarra
(03) 8080 8080
Mon to Sun 12pm–11pm
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on December 9, 2019. Menu items may have changed since publication.