Alter Dining – in the space once home to Thai restaurant BKK and before that Saigon Sally – is the Commune Group’s first restaurant not entirely devoted to Asian cuisine. The central bar remains from its predecessor, but the mood is altogether more sophisticated. BKK’s bright, neon-flecked interior is long gone, and in its place you’ll find a monochrome room of raw concrete, light-grey curtains and a dramatic black-and-white line-work mural with an air of Keith Haring. The mural, painted by Conrad Bizjak, runs the length of one wall, creeping across the ceiling in parts too.
The succinct menu by chef Sean Judd (also of BKK) is ideal for sharing. To start you'll find pippies and mussels in broth; coconut-marinated king prawns with pomelo; and half-quail glazed in a blood-plum sauce, chargrilled and served with chilli salt.
Medium-sized dishes include hand-cut egg noodles with curry sauce, sea urchin and pickled mustard greens, and roasted Jerusalem artichokes with pine-mushroom salad and a honey dressing.
Alter’s food references flavours from all around the world with nods, in particular, to Asian and European cuisines.
The drinks list is “pretty succinct", says co-owner Nic Coulter, who also drew up the wine menu at the group’s nearby bar, Neptune. There are bottles here from Europe, Australia, New Zealand and a few house cocktails on offer. And the team wants you to settle in.