To say it’s been a rough month for the staff at Stokehouse is an understatement. After seeing the iconic restaurant burn to the ground during service, an entirely new Stokehouse has been built in just two weeks. “It has certainly been a month I wouldn’t be in a rush to go through again,” says Restaurant Manager Joel Penno.

But today, things are starting to look up for the Stokehouse, with its rapid-response pop-up restaurant officially opening its tent-flap just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Obviously, the makeshift restaurant isn’t your ordinary marquee. Designed by Harry the Hirer’s founder, Rick Jamieson – who also, incidentally, bred champion horse Black Caviar – the Stokehouse’s new home recently received an award for design excellence in an international industry competition. “In his own words, he’s ‘created the world’s best horse, and the world’s best tent,’” says Penno. “It’s pretty amazing.”

Seating upwards of 300 diners, the temporary Stokehouse will feature a bistro-style menu combining the best dishes from both upstairs and down, while a new outdoor bar will serve snacks from the barbie. Head Chef Oliver Gould reveals that there will be snacks such as snapper ceviche, heirloom tomato and nectarine salad with buffalo mozzarella and puffed-rice crumble and wagyu beef carpaccio – while favourites such as the simple steak with cafe de Paris butter and Stokehouse’s famous bombe will also return. “Today’s the first day we’ve been in the kitchen,” he says. “Chefs don’t like to sit still for too long, so it’s nice to lift the energy levels and get back on the stove.”

For his part, Penno’s pretty amped to get back into service too. “I can’t wait to start seeing regular customers in here again – family and friends, and just seeing people laughing in the building,” says Penno.

Stokehouse Pop-Up
30 Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda

Hours
February 14 to May 11, 2014
Daily 11am–late

stokehousemelbourne.com.au