Ashley Davis and fellow chef Sascha Rust own Copper Pot in Seddon, which has been plating up regional European dishes shaped by Australian produce since 2016.
Messer is restaurant number two and here the duo is looking to Europe’s markets to drive the restaurant’s food and vibe.
Lunchtime diners can expect a menu del dia (Spanish for “fixed-price”, in this case for two or three courses) as well as a generous assortment of salads. Then there’s the snacks menu that runs all day; it features Davis’s take on flammkuchen or tarte flambée, a moreish woodfired flatbread of German-Alsatian origins.
At dinner the menu is weighted roughly 50:50 meat to vegetables. For those whose diets straddle the grey area between, there are a number of nose-to-tail meat dishes such as the tender ox tongue, and the entire roe, flesh and skin of a Yarra Valley trout presented as a “sandwich”.
When Rust isn’t in the kitchen (or working the smoking barbeque fuelled by cherry-wood charcoal from local orchards) he’s foraging for pink peppercorns, lilly pilly berries and samphire to top that night’s dishes.
There is an Australian and Euro-heavy wine list, and the sporits have all manner of intriguing spirits (Marionette, Maidenii, Applewood Økar) in them, including a house-made charred-grapefruit gin that’s the base of a rather punchy Australian Negroni. The first page of the drinks menu is a rewarding lesson in learning to pause for an aperitif, and not just hastily flicking to beer or wine.