From affordable Michelin-starred dumplings to young chefs going solo, these are the openings everyone’s talking about right now.
Rockwell and Attica might at first seem an unlikely pairing, but it works. Chef Casey Wall cooked at Cutler & Co before he was slinging burgers at Rockwell & Sons, and his dishes – which range from crispy-chicken-skin sandwiches to cured scallops with fermented buttermilk and greens – are a perfect match for the bar’s drink offering.
Bar Liberty has just announced it will also offer set five-course wine dinners on the last Wednesday of each month in the back room. The dinners will be limited to 12 guests.
Peter Gunn talked about turning his monthly pop-up, IDES, into a full-time restaurant for a while, and on Wednesday he finally did it. The expectations here are high: IDES-the-pop-up (which took place once a month at Persillade in East Melbourne) was almost perpetually booked out.
It’s not the end of the pop-ups for the ex-Attica sous, though. Once a month he’ll run One Day Sunday at IDES, for which the team will host a themed lunch in place of the regular tasting menu. The first one, on April 24, is a buffet: “We’re tossing up whether to go North American-diner style, or Intercontinental Hotel-style, with fanned napkins and a carvery station,” says Gunn.
92 Smith Street, Collingwood
(03) 9939 9542
Carlton’s experimental Thai-leaning cafe, Nora, closed at the end of February and reopened this week as a full-time version of its Small Dinner Club. Nora, as it’s still called, is now a 20-seat, degustation-only restaurant. Owners Sarin Rojanametin and Jean Thamthanakorn are still pushing an inventive, artful menu (which you wont get to read until you’ve finished eating), but it may involve black-fleshed silkie chicken and tiny, “almost burnt” Thai eggplants. Nora is forging a daring and creative path – it will be interesting to see where it goes.
156 Elgin Street, Carlton
(03) 9041 8644
Ex-Vue de Monde sous chef Clinton McIver shocked the restaurant industry when he popped up at the Clayton Bowls Club in 2013 serving degustation dinners for a mere $50. Fourteen months later he opened his own place, Amaru, on High Street in Armadale. The intimate 34-seater is best described as contemporary Australian. Amaru serves dishes such as saltbush- and wallaby-tail dumplings, and local tomatoes in a sauce made from marron heads and native muntries. But McIver isn’t into labels: “It’s basically whatever we feel tastes good and what’s received well by diners,” he told Broadsheet.
1121 High Street, Armadale
(03) 9822 0144
Tim Ho Wan is one of the year’s hottest restaurant openings almost by default – Melburnians have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Michelin-starred Hong Kong dumpling chain since it was announced in November 2014. It finally opened on Wednesday – a year late – and has had a steady stream of people queuing for its vermicelli rolls and barbequed pork buns since.