Alium Dining opened in 2020 in Bendigo’s former Royal Bank, a heritage-listed building dating back to 1908. The intimate dining space retains the building’s original Art Nouveau charm, with pressed ceilings, chandeliers and stained glass windows intact.

Young owner and chef Jay Harkness is something of an industry prodigy. He started his career as a kitchen hand in Bendigo when he was 14, before training at Wine Bank on View, then spending six months as head chef at Rocks on Rosalind.

Harkness has training in classical French cooking, but the flavours punctuating his menu reach far and wide. There’s a broad European influence with a couple Asian notes, united by a focus on local produce and seasonality. The selection changes weekly, but when Broadsheet visits, highlights were the Moreton Bay bug with sambal and cucumber, and the Kangaroo tartare with pickled grapes and egg yolk.

For the greatest hits and a few off-menu numbers, go with the Chef’s Whim. It’s a tasting menu featuring seven to eight courses, and there’s no shortage of local wine to pair it with.

While the selection here does favour local drops, there’s plenty of vino from further afield. Regions include the Yarra Valley, Geelong, Macedon, Mornington and the Barossa, with an Italian prosecco and a French pinot gris for good measure. A neat list of cocktails puts a twist on the classics. Try the espresso martini, which trades vodka and Kahlua for Dark Matter spiced rum.

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Updated: July 27th, 2021

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