Lobster and champagne are most often associated with fine dining, but a new CBD eatery is combining the two – and a few other oceanic snacks – in a laid-back, neon-pink setting.
“It originally stemmed from the idea of us eating great seafood with bread and butter,” owner Jeremy Schinck says. “We started off with a lobster roll. And then we started getting creative with other seafoods.”
Along with his wife Samara, Schinck opened Pinchy’s last week in Bourke Street’s Midcity Centre arcade following pop-ups at HWKR, the Melbourne Cup Carnival, Night Noodle Markets and a six-month activation at Emporium. It’s the second permanent venture for Schinck, who also owns Circus Bar & Nightclub in South Yarra, but this undertaking is more subdued, and arguably more fun.
“Because of the connotations and stuffiness that lobster has had in the past, we wanted the name to be as fun and accessible as possible,” he says.
The level-one eatery has a 100-square-metre open-air balcony with street views. Inside, the signature Pinchy’s neon claw sign is backed by a rose-gold mirror, casting the restaurant in a pink glow. The space was designed by Abbotsford firm Brandworks, and there are velvet booths and tables to seat up to 75, with no trace of the room’s past life as an Asian restaurant.
Chef Pierre Khodja, who worked at London's Ma Cuisine when it was awarded two Michelin stars, designed the menu. It’s made up exclusively of small plates, and is around 80 per cent seafood and 20 per cent vegan.
“We wanted to create a menu you could slowly eat through, and then revisit those dishes [you] really loved,” says Schinck.
Expect to use your hands or the only cutlery on offer – a small fork – as you work your way through lots of bite-sized snacks. Descriptions don’t go into much detail, so there’s an element of surprise as each dish hits the table.
The prawn-head roll comes with sea-urchin aioli, and a bisque-y sauce piped into the fried the head of the prawn. The kitchen team uses a crispy baguette roll, slicing off its sides before toasting and slathering with Organic Times butter from New Zealand.
The lobster for the main event – the lobster roll – comes from the Cozy Harbour Seafood in Maine in the US. Pinchy’s uses both the core and the knuckle of the lobster, which Schinck reckons is “the tastiest part”. It’s finished with mayonnaise, lemon, a drizzle of butter, and chopped chives.
There are also crab tacos with avocado mousse; natural oysters; sardines with tomato compote; and octopus with potato salad and capers. Vegan dishes include a vegetable paella and grilled asparagus with romesco.
There are two bars to choose from. One serves cocktails, craft brews and non-alcoholic drops, the other French champagne, local sparklings and an Italian prosecco.
Level 1, 200 Bourke Street, Melbourne
0420 783 719
Fri & Sat 11.30am–1am