Taking its name from a neighbourhood in central London, just above Oxford Street in the West End (not to mention the Italian expression for Fitzroy Street), Fitzrovia: Fine Food Republic is internationally recognised chef Paul Jewson’s latest venture. A St Kilda local since returning from London in 2009, Jewson has worked all around England and Europe for the past two decades and takes over the site of where the Waldorf Diner once stood.
“The thing that we’re really missing around this place is a business that focuses on just the two-kilometre radius from that business to make a real neighbourhood venture,” he says of his local St Kilda surrounds. Owner and operator of Outpost in South Yarra before selling up in early 2011, Jewson and partner Marco Pugnaloni (who will be maître d’ at Fitzrovia) have the desire to take the food Jewson was creating at Outpost to a restaurant level. Enter the Fine Food Republic.
Jewson left for London in 1992 as a 21-year-old. Having first worked under Antony Worrall Thompson at his 190 Queens Gate Restaurant, Jewson went on to become head chef at Terrence Conran’s Bluebird in 1997. He’s worked everywhere from Soho House and River Cafe to running the kitchens for premier European events company The Admirable Crichton, whose clients included the British Royal Family, Bill Clinton, Sting, Ralph Fiennes and Karl Lagerfeld. So it comes as no surprise that the Fitzrovia menu channels all of Jewson’s palatial food knowledge.
Modern British meets River Cafe-style Italian and European fare at Fitzrovia, with signature dishes including slow-roast pork belly with caramelised sweet potato mash, and cock crab with Asian mushroom and wasabi salad as an entrée. There’s also a little fun via the beautifully fried seasonal crispy school prawn and avocado cocktail creation.
And the best part? It’s all local produce. “Victoria is so beautifully positioned with the most fantastic produce in the world,” he says.
It’s a notion that adheres wonderfully to his neighbourhood-centric approach. “We plan on doing long table dinners during the summer outside on the footpath and basically creating an all-day dining restaurant serving luxe comfort food with a neighbourhood focus,” he says.
Offering a unique experience that blurs the lines between kitchen and dining space, guests will find themselves sitting amongst the constantly evolving fresh produce delivered each day. Coffee at Fitzrovia will come from St ALi.
155 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda
Tue to Sun 7am–11pm