Wining and Dining hotspots
The Atlantic opens at Crown Melbourne
The most ambitious seafood restaurant the city has even seen is set to open this month at Crown’s popular riverside restaurant precinct - The Atlantic – where the authenticity of a bustling seafood market and its displays of wild and sustainable fish meets an unparalleled level of world-class dining.
Owned by award-winning entrepreneur Hatem Saleh with Con Andronis (of Clamms Seafood fame), The Atlantic will combine the talents of Tony Schiavello – principal of the Schiavello Group – and Donovan Cooke – former Chef de Cuisine at the prestigious Happy Valley Clubhouse of the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Together they have created a modern seafood experience that showcases the best of Australia’s premium seafood, including a 20 metre custom built seafood case where the best wild and sustainable fish, unique oyster varieties and pristine shellfish will be on display.
The Atlantic will seat 300 people in a minimalist interior concept created by Blackmilk Interior Design (responsible for Shed 14 venues, Va Bene pizzeria and Alumbra at Central Pier) where the activities of the open kitchen are visible to diners. A cross-section of dining is accommodated, with the Atlantic housing an Oyster Bar, al fresco dining, a basement lounge, a fine dining restaurant and private dining areas as well as The Den, the Atlantic’s sexy subterranean basement club.
The Altantic will provide the ultimate seafood experience, where Guests can sit up at the Oyster Bar until 2am and test Australia’s best rock, flat and black-lipped oysters, or enjoy a more formal occasion in one of the private alcoves with oysters and vintage French champagne on ice. In the restaurant, Donovan has devised a menu where more delicate appetizers sit alongside big bold mains such as Atlantic marinara, whole wood fired barrimundi and snapper. The restaurant will also be the place to experience Donovan’s degustation menus, that have earned him a cult international following.
The main restaurant at Atlantic will be open from midday to midnight daily, while the Champagne and oyster bar will remain open until a late night close of 2am every day of the week.
Café Vue opens at Melbourne Airport
Dining at Melbourne airport just became more upmarket with the addition of a local food icon to its new international passenger precinct in December – Shannon Bennett’s award-winning Café Vue.
Sharp and brightly decorated with 10-metre high windows offering unparalleled views over the airfield, this latest incarnation of Café Vue – located just beyond the duty free section – is difficult to miss, especially given the colourful displays of French-styled patisseries, including the café’s signature (and delicious) macarons. Over-sized pot plants, mirrors and tiling define the design.
An extensive breakfast and lunch menu of local produce offers temptations such as oysters, caviar and Blackmore Wagyu Steak, as well as sweet favourites like chocolate & cardamom fondant and pistachio madeleines. Café Vue’s famous lunch boxes are also available from $15, with the addition of a breakfast box at the same price and a three-course dinner box from $30. What’s even more exciting is these boxes can be wrapped neatly to be taken on-board as an in-flight meal.
With 2.9 million departing international passengers at Melbourne Airport every year, Café Vue’s distinctive style is sure to leave a lasting impression in the minds of travellers, particularly sophisticates looking to toast their Melbourne tryst with a glass of champagne.
New CBD cafés worth the stop
While traversing Melbourne attending premiere shows, or events at the many autumn festivals, you might like to drop by one of the new inner city cafés offering a coffee pit-stop/lunchtime experience with a difference.
The Truffula Seed Café is a sustainable espresso bar servicing office workers in the Shell Building at 1 Spring Street. Offering only ethically sourced, single-origin coffees, they use organic milk, biodegradable cups and even give a discount if you bring your own mug.
Earl Canteen at 500 Bourke Street specialises in sandwiches, but not as you know them. These sandwiches are ‘restaurant quality’, the likes of the Duck Confit sandwich with caramelised wild figs, walnuts, onion jam, radicchio and watercress on ciabatta.
The Tuck Shop in the foyer of the NAB Building in Bourke Street draws from the experience of the owner of St Ali and Sensory Lab, and concocts dishes with ‘super foods’ as ingredients, such as free range chicken mixed with bush tomatoes, cucumber, quinoa and pomegranate seeds.
Little Wish is tucked away in the Exchange Tower on Little Collins Street. While the space is small, they’re very big on coffee, which makes this nook a must-visit for coffee snobs. Little Wish is one of the few places boasting the very expensive and very rare ‘Slayer’ coffee machine.
BON a Manger on the corner of Little Bourke Street and Hardware Lane is Melbourne’s take on London’s renowned Pret a Manger, with Adrian Polydorou (formerly of Maze London) at its helm. Foods are market-sourced daily.
PonyFish Island on the Yarra
Floating on the Yarra River underneath the pedestrian footbridge connecting Southgate to Flinders Street Station is the cryptically named Ponyfish Island café and bar, which has been attracting lots of attention from curious passers-by.
A venture that sees hospitality guru Jerome Borazio (Sister Bella, 1000 Pound Bend) teaming with Andrew McKinnon of the Taboo Group and Grant Smile from 360 agency, Ponyfish Island sports a ‘pop up’ aesthetic with a recycled, sea-inspired fit-out by the Moth Design people (Penthouse Mouse). Stools are actually old shipping pallets, and hessian sacks and overhead lanterns are used as decoration, as well as wooden planter boxes with weather-enduring succulents.
The kitchen produces simple fare that crosses breakfast, lunch and dinner requirements – waffles through to ‘toasties’ and the likes of beef goulash. Ponyfish Island also has a liquor licence, so patrons can enjoy a tipple while taking in a totally different aspect of Melbourne that positively sparkles under both the daytime sunshine and moonlight (opens at 8am and closes at 1am daily).
A ‘Ponyfish Island’ sign scribbled in chalk on the footbridge announces the skinny and discreet stairway entrance. Once inside, you can take a riverside seat and watch the bustle of Melbourne (and the Yarra River boat traffic) pass you by.