South Yarra’s Omnia, which opened in a sleek permanent space on Chapel Street late last year, has launched a new relaxed (but still refined) takeaway offering, leaning more into lunch.
Before the pandemic, the bistro was doing a solid lunch and dinner trade with an elevated à la carte menu courtesy of Scottish-born head chef Stephen Nairn, who’s had several high-profile postings, including at New York’s illustrious Eleven Madison Park.
That fine-dining experience usually presents in the European flavours and techniques that characterise his cooking, but another telltale sign of his time in the US has now made it onto the lunch menu: bagels.
“They’re just fucking delicious,” says Nairn. “This purely comes from when I worked in New York – I absolutely loved bagels.”
The Omnia selection starts with a choice between plain, everything and sesame bagels care of resident pastry expert John Demetrios, who was executive pastry chef at Vue de Monde when he met Nairn and has more than 15 years’ experience.
Next there’s a choice of house-made schmears including spring onion, jalapeno or chive-and-roast-garlic cream cheese; fillings such as smoked ocean trout or chicken; and garnishes of red onion, pickled cucumbers, pickled jalapenos, lettuce, tomato, olives and cheese.
“You can tell there's a big difference between a well-executed bagel and just a bagel,” Nairn says, adding that he and his team have been trying to adapt to changing restrictions while challenging themselves and keeping their customers happy, too.
The technically tricky dough, endless filling possibilities and mass appeal of bagels made them the obvious choice.
There are other crowd-pleasers on the menu, including a poached-prawn sandwich (Mooloolaba prawns poached in court bouillon with a Mary Rose-style cocktail sauce in fluffy white bread); a white-fish sandwich (beer-battered rockling, pickled cucumbers, lettuce and tartare sauce); and classic prawn cocktails.
The other made-to-order sandwiches, soups and salads change regularly, as do the freshly baked pastries and doughnuts. (Past options have included a square doughnut with glazed strawberries and Chantilly cream, and a chocolate-glazed circle doughnut dusted with brownie crumbs.)
For dinner, expect dishes such as Cape Grim Scotch fillet “steak frites” with peppercorn sauce; truffle-stuffed quail; and grilled broccolini salad with preserved lemon, quinoa, chickpeas and walnuts.
So far, the takeaway offering – and bagels in particular – have proven popular, Nairn says, but he’s looking forward to welcoming back dine-in customers as soon as possible. “There’s no way takeaway is going to match when you can sit people down and serve them a meal – it’s two different worlds,” he says.
Omnia at Home is available Monday to Saturday for pick up or delivery. Lunch is from 12pm to 4pm and dinner is 4.30pm to 8pm.