It was only a matter of time before someone put their stamp on the once-exuberant Observatory Cafe in the Royal Botanic Gardens. With his ever-expanding dining empire in iconic Melbourne locations, it’s no surprise that person is Shannon Bennett.
Bennett himself would walk his dog around the track several times a week and always lamented the venue’s downward turn. So when it came up for tender he jumped at the chance to add it to his repertoire.
In an interesting extension of his background in French cooking, Bennett’s menu at Jardin Tan is inspired by the fusion food that came about following France’s colonisation of Vietnam.
The front-of-house kiosk is sure to attract those keen for breakfast or a bánh mì after doing laps of the tan, as well as those after an ale and a more substantial lunch at the wooden tables inside. You can also lounge in the beer garden out back, surrounded by lush foliage.
Chef Mike Reid is serving exotic dishes using fresh produce direct from Burnham Beeches’ own garden. After years of cooking French food, Bennett’s move toward French-Vietnamese fusion is an interesting one. “Blame Victoria Street”, says Bennett. He takes his family to the strip most weeks on his night off. “It’s family oriented food, and it’s always fresh.”
Royal Botanic Gardens
Birdwood Avenue, South Yarra
(03) 9691 3888