Nathan Toleman has a new CBD cafe. After branching into the wine bar and restaurant world with Dessous, Hazel and Liminal, the man who was a key figure in the Melbourne cafe renaissance of the early 2010s opens Square One Rialto on Monday August 21.
The ambitious new concept sees him collaborating with a series of local and international chefs on dishes designed specifically for the Rialto Towers venue. “I reached out to about 70 chefs just randomly a couple of months ago and said, ‘Hey, I’ve got this crazy idea – I’d love for you to be involved,’” Toleman tells Broadsheet.
Every three months, 10 chefs will each develop a dish for the Square One menu. As the season changes, 10 new chefs will create 10 new dishes to replace the last cohort’s offering.
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Liong’s creation is a cumin-lamb pancake with Lanzhou chilli oil, Mendes has contributed a Portuguese pork sandwich, while Sydney chef Mitch Orr (Kiln) is behind an ube waffle with whipped Pepe Saya butter. The menu will also include year-round house staples like chilli-whipped ricotta, a seasonal omelette, and eggs on toast.
The space doubles as a retail footprint for Square One, the roastery Toleman’s Mulberry group has operated for the last eight years, and there’ll be espresso, filter coffee and cold brew on pour.
The 120-seat cafe is in the slick, cavernous space formerly occupied by the Mercedes Me cafe, dining, events and design concept, as well as Sensory Lab’s Rialto coffee bar. The Mulberry Group took over about a year ago, undertaking a wholesale refurb with Ewert Leaf, who also worked with Toleman on Lune's minimalist Armadale shop front.
Like all Mulberry venues, 10 per cent of profits from Square One Rialto will go towards the group’s Common Ground Project – a regenerative community farm in Freshwater Creek, about an hour and a half outside Geelong, that provides education, training and career pathways for people facing disadvantage.
“As a group, over the last four years we’ve become more and more interested and invested in regenerative farming and social and environmental impact,” says Toleman. “We look at it as something that’s really important to us – to not just to support the local food system, but to support people in the community who are struggling.”
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Square One Rialto
Rialto Podium Complex, Retail Tenancy 1, Ground Mezzanine, 525 Collins St, Melbourne
Mon to Fri 7am–3pm