Melbourne, you’re tough to please. No sooner than you’ve finished your Korexican doughnut, you’re moving on to your artisan hot dog degustation. So, to cater for a market always seeking the new, chef Jason Jones is launching a restaurant that relaunches once a year.
Built on the site of his existing restaurant, B’Stilla, Enquire Within proposes a bold experiment in dining. For 12 months Enquire Within runs with one concept, name, menu, chef and fit-out, then completely shift gears to an entirely new concept, name, menu, chef and fit-out for the next 12. Jones believes it’ll be an effective way to hold the public’s attention. “The thing is you only really get a year or two and you start to become a bit old-school, because there’s so much new stuff happening all the time in Melbourne,” he says. “So we can do that – but we don’t need to find a new location, we can just keep it fresh in the same spot.”
Jones, who is currently splitting his time between Melbourne and Singapore where he’s building a line of Mexican restaurants for the Loco Group, has brought on new partners for the venture. Hugo Tremayne, former front of house at Mamasita and Cookie, and Anita Basile of The European, are helping. While Jones remains executive chef, he hopes to bring on a new head chef each year. “We’re hoping to put it out there to a chef each year to say here’s a blank canvas, you’re not locked in forever – what have you got?” he says.
Sash Fernando of Principle Design is handling the first iteration of the fit-out, integrating board games into the tables and an edible garden by 3000 Acres. Jones says the key word for Enquire Within is “fun”. “The food will be a little bit kitsch,” he says. “It’s not too serious and it shouldn’t be taken too seriously.”
It’s a pretty wide brief, but Jones says they’re playing around with dishes such as Kentucky-fried quail with Sriracha mayo, Peking duck club sandwiches and spaghetti a la olio with urchin roe. “I’d like to get some fresh-shucked oysters from my friend’s organic oyster farm and do Kilpatrick,” he says, laughing. “Something really classic that people haven’t seen for a while.”
B’Stilla will continue service while Enquire Within is in development. B’Stilla’s doors will close on September 26 and reopening on October 8.