Patrick Ryan and Jeremy Prus have been here before.
In late 2012, Ryan and Prus were among the hospitality pros that took over long-standing CBD stalwart Emporio and rebooted it as Lalla Rookh. Seven years on and Ryan and Prus are among the team relaunching the former The Witch’s Cauldron site on Rokeby Road as Dilly Dally, a large-format restaurant pitched at locals in Subiaco and its surrounds.
“It’s the kind of venue we’d like to have around the corner from us,” says Ryan who is moving over from Lalla Rookh to take on the role of general manager at Dilly Dally. (He remains a partner at Lalla Rookh). “We want it to be the sort of place people can pop down during the week for a drink and sneaky snack, they can share a pizza on a Friday night or have something a little more serious for Sunday lunch with the family. They don’t have to take the venue too seriously, but we will be.”
In the kitchen will be Peter Hajdu, a chef that counts large-format inner city establishments Bread In Common and Gordon Street Garage as former workplaces. Accessible Italian is the brief, and the menu – still in development – will feature pizza and small plates.
Considering Jeremy Prus is widely regarded by many as the sommelier’s sommelier, it comes as little surprise that wine will be a strong suit of the drinks offering. While he’ll stock plenty of organic, lo-fi wines, his selection won’t be dogmatic.
“The list will have an Italian lean, but we’ll proudly rep all things delicious and kitchen-friendly,” he says. “There will also be lots of interest for hunters of burgundy and rare wines. It won’t be encyclopaedic, but there’ll be depth and playfulness in equal measure.”
Modernising the long-standing space has been high on the team’s agenda. Gone are the carpet, booth seating and Halloween fixtures of the Cauldron. In their place: polished-concrete flooring, many new licks of paint (think 50 shades of terracotta) and an airy new interior with lots of natural light. Although the site has of two storeys – and many more nooks and crannies, besides – Dilly Dally will only reopen downstairs initially. Still, considering downstairs seats “just” 200 patrons, Ryan and co will have their work cut out for them. The restaurant's general manager doesn’t mind, though – he’s looking forward to seeing what guests want and then tailoring the offering to suit.
“With Lalla Rookh, we didn’t plan on opening a hatted or [Gourmet Traveller] top 100 restaurant,” he says. “It just evolved. There’s so much potential in this space and the suburb. It’s just going to be a matter of opening the doors, seeing what works and going from there.”