Stephen Nairn has worked several high-profile postings, including Matilda, Vue de Monde and New York’s illustrious Eleven Madison Park. His experience is on full show at Omnia, via an elegant produce-driven menu built around European flavours and techniques.
Nairn’s version of steak tartare, for example, uses beef tenderloin, dried capsicum and smoked egg yolk, and is served with pomme gaufrettes (fancy ruffled chips). Parmesan and Gruyere gougères are tanned on the outside and have a light, pillowy inner, best torn in half and dipped into bright-green chive cream that arrives on the side.
Other past standouts have included Victorian quail, deboned and filled with chicken mousse, then roasted, chopped and reassembled in the shape of the bird; and a Lakes Entrance rockling lightly cured with pink Murray River salt and citrus, then grilled over charcoal and served with a warm tartare sauce and leek nest.
The wine list contains several hundred bottles from around the world, and there’s a truly original range of cocktails originally created by Orlando Marzo (the World’s Best Bartender in 2018). Want a Martini, for example? There are three house twists, including one made with oyster-infused gin.
The restaurant’s front section is filled with light (thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows along the facade), greenery, and emerald and slate-blue tones. Further back in a second dining area, lamps and chandeliers create a moodier atmosphere, with leather banquettes and booths offset by bare wooden floorboards and exposed-brick walls. There are paintings and bronze sculptures by Melbourne artist David Bromley, and – for those who prefer to see the chefs’ dynamic firsthand – seating by the open kitchen.
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