Heirloom opened last week on Bourke Street on the ground floor of the Citadines Hotel near the Southern Cross Building. This is an interesting, ambitious project with plenty of experience behind it to give it the foundation it needs.

Heirloom is about collaboration; Shigeo Nonaka from Japanese restaurant Shoya (across the road in Market Lane) and Kyle Doody (who has worked good stints at Jacques Reymond and Gills Diner among other places) are in the kitchen bringing together what’s described as ‘French/Japanese cuisine’.

There may be utterances of the ‘f-word’ (fusion) as you read this but the strength here is that Doody has experience in European cooking with Asian elements from Jacques Reymond and Nonaka’s focus at Shoya is based on Wafu cuisine, Japanese cooking with European elements. You’ll find Drunken Tofu (with a sake and chilli marinade) alongside terrine of rabbit and hazelnuts in the entrees, there’s a meat locker drying our heaving cuts of Black Angus beef and a delightful small room for about 30 people out the back with a stunning granite table to seat 12. This room is its own restaurant.

Simply called the Sake Bar, this is where you can enjoy sushi, high-end yakitori, and soon, tempura. But it’s the cavernous concrete-walled 85-seat room designed by Victor Isobe (whose projects have included Tempura Hajime and Yu-u) that pulls you in with its clever use of blacks, greys, silver and a splash of red.

Service and front-of-house operation is taken care of by David Wilson (formerly of Gill’s Diner, with years of experience around Melbourne) and Cimmarro Lau (from Shoya), who have created a wine list acknowledging European, boutique Australian and hard-to-find sake.

The emphasis on balance, cross-cultural eccentricities and quality should see Heirloom slowly bloom.

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Ground Floor, 131 Bourke Street, Melbourne
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