Taking over what was once Blue Bottle, The Olsen has revamped the space to create Spoonbill, an eatery devoted to showcasing local, sustainable food and drink. Artist (and namesake of the hotel) John Olsen plays muse to the restaurant too – in particular his iconic landscapes.
Art Series Hotel marketing manager Liz Austin curated the look and feel of the restaurant, working closely with head chef Russell Gronow (formerly of MoMo, Il Solito Posto and The Continental) and the Art Series Hotel Group owners to bring the menu to life. “We wanted to keep it Australian…and keep it contemporary,” she says. “In the rooms, we have documentaries about the artist and have an in-house curator and updates on what’s going on in the art scene. In the [restaurant], it’s about providing an education about Australian food.”
Spoonbill’s range of seafood and local meats are incorporated into either tapas-styled tasters, shared plates or larger meals, depending on your dining preference. Wagyu beef sliders, Yarra Valley quail, slow cooked pork belly and smoked lamb rump sit next to substantial share dishes like paella, with fresh mussels, prawns, fish and chorizo. The restaurant places particular focus on championing local suppliers, so Yarra Valley quail, Gippsland porterhouse and Milawa goat’s cheese are all key ingredients.
As Austin explains, developing the menu was an interesting process, balancing creative ideas with the ethos of the group. “I knew that we needed to be true to our values, highlighting the best of Australian cuisine. We wanted to keep it simple, focus on the produce, keep it clean, and keep the consumer close to the supplier. We spent a lot of time refining the menu and taste testing it. It needed to reflect who we were and to the standard of the five-star experience.”
Spoonbill has crafted a drinks list to keep all tastes satisfied, enlisting the talents of local drink purveyors Innocent Bystander, Little Creatures and Melbourne’s St ALi. They’ve also put in some serious thought to the cocktail menu, with drinks like the ‘Dr Olsen’ (cognac, sugar, bitters and champagne) or the dessert-like ‘Violet Crumble’ with whisky, butterscotch liquor, dark chocolate liquor, burnt honey, ice cream and a Flake topping it off.
Spoonbill’s menu changes seasonally and its winter menu will be released in the coming months.