Pascale Bar & Grill
The performance begins before you get inside. On the street, a personable young Briton in a Mia Wallace wig hustles passers-by. Pascale Bar & Grill is no shrinking violet. This brasserie is the flagship restaurant in QT Melbourne, an ambitious boutique hotel.
Pascale is kitted out with a broadly French theme. Interior designer Nic Graham’s use of space is immensely baroque, heavy on black-framed glass, polished concrete, chequerboard and leather.
The men’s toilet is a collage of disembodied boobs and statues. Some of the seats have a cartoonish sexy-lady face made from cut-out eyes and lips. Some will inevitably read this as arty or playful. Others will feel uncomfortable eating alongside this overt objectification.
Pascale is overseen by creative food director Robert Marchetti (formerly of Icebergs in Bondi) and executive chef Paul Easson (previously at QT’s Gowings Bar & Grill in Sydney). There’s a breakfast menu as sophisticated and switched-on as most new Melbourne cafes have, but the main event is lunch and dinner.
The age-old fricassee (French stew) of rare-breed Sommerlad chicken comes with a cone of masala dosa on top. A perfectly done bavette-skirt steak is rich and livery, and balanced simply with lemon and shallots.
A wok-fried grouper is paired with chanterelle mushrooms and kaiserfleisch. The flounder floats in champagne. A Wagyu tomahawk, cooked in the Josper oven, can feed four people – at $95 a head. The restaurant has a full-time forager and a rooftop garden producing herbs and honey.
Dessert is a showstopper. The Napoleon Blanky raspberry millefeuille has layers of dark, granular puff pastry under a scarlet blanket of raspberry set with agar-agar. It’s visually striking, rewardingly complex and not heavy-handedly sweet.
The bar is open daily from 12pm–12am.