After 12 years in the iconic George building, Simon Jones and Greg Kahan knew The Long Room was due for a rebrand. The George on Collins is the final result. It’s a refined all-day venue that emphasises the heritage space without sacrificing its implicit modernity.

Interior design firm Hecker Guthrie (Ugly Duckling,East, Foxes Den) was brought on for the refurbishment and fit-out.

The firm’s co-founder Hamish Guthrie worked on one version of the space back in the ’90s, when the building was a brasserie, so he understands the balancing act required while working on the Georges building. “We wanted to celebrate it. The last time it had been laid over there was a lot of hiding of what it was,” says Guthrie. “Our first gesture was to pare it back and expose all this beautiful heritage and texture of the existing building.”

The new George occupies the basement, which meant it needed a different colour and lighting approach than aboveground projects. “How do you make it feel comfortable to come down here in the middle of the day?” says Guthrie. “We deliberately haven’t gone too dark down here.”

The walls and ceilings have been painted a crisp, bright white, punctuated by textured curtains that draw attention towards the softly lit booths. The main dining area is divided by an imposing granite bar, where diners can perch with a drink or dinner.

“We wanted this bar in the middle where people can see people,” says Kahan. “It’s turned out magnificently so that you can see people wherever you are.”

That said, there’s privacy if you want it. The George’s front rooms, booths, lounge area, and drinking and dining sections are all cleverly zoned in naturalistic ways.

Head chef Tom Brockbank has created five menus that are deployed across the day, from breakfast through to late-night snacks. Each menu demonstrates a modern-European influence, with a reliance on local produce. There’s also a focus on sharing, with larger plates such as the 12-hour lamb shoulder, which is aged for 14 days then slow-cooked, or the charcuterie and antipasti boards.

Drinks are just as varied as the food. House cocktails join an extensive range of local and imported beers and spirits. It’s all bolstered by a cosmopolitan wine list from legendary sommelier and maître d’ Ainslie Lubbock, who’s welcomed guests at humble institutions such as Attica, Pei Modern, The Royal Mail and Cutler & Co’s

The George on Collins
162–168 Collins Street, Melbourne
(03) 9663 7226

Hours:
Mon to Thu 7am–12am
Fri 7am–3am
Sat 4pm–3am
Sun closed

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