Iain Ling, who managed MoVida Aqui for six years, has purchased Carlton's Hotel Lincoln.

The British expat is currently overseeing minor renovations – which will open up the space and soften the furnishings – while “staying true” to the pub’s 160-year history. The revamped venue will have a shorter menu, with a focus on seasonality. “There’s not going to be one particular theme to the food,” he says.

Ling wants to make Hotel Lincoln somewhere people feel like visiting three or four times a week. During the day, the area is filled with RMIT staff and students, trade-school pupils and NGO workers – groups he has no intention of alienating with the fine food. “We want the product to be very serious, but relaxed and accessible at the same time,” he says.

He’s assembled a top-shelf team to help him. Lachlan Cameron (Supernormal, MoVida Aqui) will run the kitchen, while Emma Ramos (Le Bon Ton, The Everleigh) will be behind the bar, serving up house punch and iced teas, alongside cocktails and 12 draught beers. The wine list is being designed by Lachlan Barber, who did the same for The Town Mouse and MoVida Aqui.

Hotel Lincoln is the end of a long journey for Ling, who’s had plans to open his own eatery since before leaving London six years ago. Since he first arrived in Melbourne, he’s been looking for sites on and off. “It's a bit like dating, really,” he says. “You get all enthused about it, and then you get a bit disenchanted because you haven't found the right one.”

Hotel Lincoln will re-open in late November for lunch and dinner.

Hotel Lincoln
91 Cardigan Street, Carlton