Julie had to open in spring. Everything in its edible garden, whose ingredients provide the soul of the menu here, was planted months ago to be ready for harvest – and opening night.
This romantic new dining spot, a companion to Cam’s Kiosk, is the latest restaurant to come to Abbotsford Convent in the former Lentil As Anything space. And its centrepiece is an outdoor area that provides views over the gardens.
Julieanne Blum has stepped into the head chef role at Julie, set to open next week, after six years at Cam's. While the focus at Cam’s is on small plates (due to its limited kitchen), Blum is excited to cook more substantial dishes. “We’re going to be able to cook whole fish and use things like char that we haven’t been able to [do] before,” Blum tells Broadsheet. “You’ll come in and get a few little snackies, and then you’ll pick one or two proteins and be able to pick a vegetable and salad from our garden.”
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The centrepiece garden has been custom-built by the convent’s head gardener Cate Della Bosca. It’ll be open for diners to check out before they dine at the restaurant, and functions as the “third arm” of Cam’s and Julie.
“It’s going to be a really beautiful thing … for a chef to be able to take that time out, spend some time in nature, and pick things that are going to go on the plate later in the afternoon,” she says.
The outdoor tables by the edible garden can seat up to 30 guests. The heritage interior dining room has capacity for 50. It features tall ceilings, butter-yellow tiles, mint-green painted walls and speckled peachy-orange floors.
Expect a changing roster of seasonal dishes, including anelletti pasta with octopus ragu and wild fennel, a tuna crudo, a roast half chicken with celeriac puree, and more. While the menu will focus on the best produce from the garden and adjoining Collingwood Childrens Farm, some elements will be firm staples. Greens will always be on the menu because the team are “obsessed with them”.
Sommeliers Claudelle Savannah and Anna Clifford have curated a seasonal drinks list which focuses on small-scale producers and wine by the glass – with a plan to have champagne by the glass and cocktails on offer. “We’ll stick to the classics … but we were talking about putting a Hanky Panky [gin, sweet vermouth and Fernet Branca] on the list, and also a Gibson, which is like a Martini with a cocktail onion,” says Clifford.