Stephen Nairn has worked several high-profile postings, including Matilda, Vue de Monde and New York’s illustrious Eleven Madison Park. That experience is on full show at Omnia. The elegant produce-driven menu here is all about European flavours and techniques.
Starters include steak tartare. Nairn’s version 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 standouts include Victorian quail, deboned and filled with chicken mousse, then roasted, chopped and reassembled in the shape of the bird. It comes with sauerkraut, pine mushrooms and a dark, rich quail jus. Rockling is from Lakes Entrance. Nairn gives it a light cure with pink Murray River salt and citrus, grills it over charcoal and serves it with a warm tartare sauce and leek nest.
The wine list has more than 200 new and old-world varieties – a significant increase on the list at the pop-up after feedback from customers – and the cocktails originally created by Orlando Marzo (the World’s Best Bartender 2018) remain.
Stepping into the space, which was designed by Architects Eat and Curious by Design, you’ll find yourself in a room 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.