Chef David is impressive, regardless of when you visit. During the day, natural light spills through the floor-to-ceiling windows and shines off patent-leather seats, polished concrete walls and brass finishes. After sunset, new life is breathed into the mammoth 160-seater space – neon signs glow, strobe lights swirl in patterns across every surface and TV screens light up with pop music videos.
It opened at the start of 2020 as a hotpot restaurant. But due to Melbourne’s extended Covid-related lockdowns, and the difficulty of delivering hot and steamy soups via takeaway, it became a Sichuan grill-style restaurant when it reopened.
Appropriately, Sichuan peppercorn features throughout the menu. Start off with some pork belly or prawn skewers then move on to something larger. One highlight is the whole fish, which arrives at your table and you grill yourself. For brave diners, there’s the Dare to Try menu, which features a variety of offal options – including pig intestine and duck gizzard skewers.
Other menu options span cold and fried dishes, along with a few favourites from the Chef David hotpot days. Orders are made through an iPad, but staff can walk you through everything too.
The drinks list is extensive. There are also a range of different cocktails to pair with your meal, such as the Fitzroy Pool Punch (which combines gin, peach ginger tea and white wine) along with various tap and canned beers and a vast wine list.
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