Nick Stanton spent the past couple of years as a short-order cook, but his mind’s been ticking over with long-term plans.
“It’s been nearly two years since I put food on a plate,” the chef says.
That’s not to say he hasn’t been cooking great food at South Yarra party bar Leonard’s House of Love – it just goes on a plastic tray or in a burger box.
Now Stanton has the keys to a site at 363 Chapel Street, South Yarra. Come November, there will be plates.
The restaurant is Ramblr, and Stanton is opening it with his partners, Guy Bentley and Jonathan Harper (also co-owners in Leonard’s).
This is all about Stanton “going back to his roots” as a chef – he was trained in European techniques.
He is still working on the menu, but so far Stanton has a daily fish crudo (raw) with burnt butter and native desert limes; crispy pig’s head with curried egg-yolk mousse and apple jam; and whipped cod roe piped into squid-ink choux pastry. That’s just snacks, by the way.
He’s particularly excited about a pumpkin “steak” that’s slow-cooked, pan-roasted and served with a mixed-grain curry (“I’m a massive lover of vego food”). Also, spaghetti and meatballs because “sometimes that’s just what people want to eat”.
Expect an open kitchen with everything on show, with a separate bar focussing on wine. It will seat close to 80, and they’ll build a cocktail bar upstairs later on.
It’s a far cry from the cheeseburgers and rotisserie chicken at Leonard’s – and you can tell Stanton is ready to flex his fine-dining muscles (although he’s reluctant to call it that).
While the Windsor end of Chapel Street continues to accumulate new restaurants and bars – how is this section of the strip (the one near Chasers nightclub and Hungry Jack’s) going to embrace pig’s head and crudo?
“We could have found something in Windsor and jumped in where everyone else is,” Stanton says. “But I prefer to let certain areas have their buzz and we go somewhere off the beaten tack where there’s not much going on.”
This could mark the start of a dining spill over. Twenty-two-year-old chef Charlie Carrington has just opened Atlas Dining down the road, and Paul Wilson will open his restaurant, Wilson & Merchant, nearby at the Prahran Market later this year.
Ramblr is slated to open mid-November at 363 Chapel Street, South Yarra.