The same brains that turned a long-unused platform at Flinders St Station into one of the city’s perennially packed bars (Arbory) have a multi-level plan for the Pacific House on Lonsdale St. A lobby cafe, a wine bar, and rooftop terrace are in the works, with a late ’17 opening. Expect them to weave similar magic.
Che — which stands for cerveza (beer) helado (ice cream) and empanadas — is the next Latin American-flavoured offering from the San Telmo/Pastuso crew. In the old Post Office building on Brunswick St, it will be a casual lick, sip, snack affair done with the same South American flair that have made the CBD restaurants such hits.
The team are also popping up at the Windsor Hotel’s Wallis and Ed space (that was Honcho noodles) over summer with a cevicheria, where Alejandro Saravia’s Peruvian ceviche will be the order of the day.
Wine bar, Prahran
And if that wasn’t enough to keep Dave Parker (San Telmo/Pastuso) busy, he’s teaming up with the guys behind Tokyo Tina/Hanoi Hannah to create a wine bar on High St in a space with great vinous heritage — it was, for many years, the lauded Vin.
King & Godfrey, Carlton
It’s been three-plus years in the planning, but 2017 will be the year the Valmorbida’s ambitious multifunctional King & Godfrey redevelopment will open its doors. With an espresso bar, deli and grocery featuring gourmet to-go meals along with an Italian restaurant and wine bar, this is yet another sign of Lygon St’s next-gen renaissance.
Ciao Cielo, Port Melbourne
Port Melbourne’s Ciao Cielo will move into fancy new heritage digs on Bay St, and pick up a sibling — Ciao Cucina — on route. Ciao Cielo will remain an up market modern Italian restaurant, while the new Ciao Cucina will offer wood-fired dishes and pizza with a beer garden out back.
Joe Mammone will add to his Sarti/Il Bacaro clan with Bar Carolina on Toorak Rd in March.
Headed by chef Paolo Masciopinto (Sarti), the restaurant will feature bistro-style dining with handmade pasta and meats cooked in the Josper oven. Italian varietals will dominate the wine list in the 70-seater restaurant.
Bang Bang, Elsternwick
Taking over the historic Caulfield Rifle Club, Richie Ludbrook and Dave Sharry from the Riverland Group (Boat Builder’s Yard, Riverland, Wye River General Store) are adding some coffee-to-cocktail style to Elsternwick with Bang Bang. Expect clever Indochine fare from chef Matthew Dunbar’s kitchen when the Six Degrees-designed space opens in mid Jan.
Embla upstairs, Melbourne
Dave Verheul and Christian McCabe are doubling down (or, as it happens, up) on their excellent Embla wine bar with an upstairs restaurant. The boys are getting the floors done over the Christmas break, with a midyear opening mooted. Dave is playing with a departure from Embla’s acclaimed wood-fired fare for the menu, with great wine a given. Watch that space.
Butcher’s Diner, Melbourne
Another year, another Ian Curley/Con Christopoulos/Josh Brisbane venue to get excited about. This time, a fully functioning butcher’s shop that will supply the meats for the trio’s French Saloon/Kirk’s/The European along with plating up steaks, pies and other meat-focused fare.
Pasta Adagio, Richmond
Carmine Costantini has transformed his acclaimed degustation diner Osteria La Passione into the more casual — though no less delicious — Pasta Adagio (slow pasta), opening mid Jan. Authentic Italian cooked with class.
175 Flinders Lane
The ever-busy Chris Lucas (Chin Chin, Hawker Hall et al) is in for an exceptionally busy 2017. First up, a three-storey Japanese helmed by Shaun Presland at 175 Flinders Lane in the city. Then there’s a second Kong to come on Smith St, the Collingwood outpost joining the original Church St space in the family. And he’s shopping for a CBD site for a high-end Italian that will see Harry Lilai (Town Hall Hotel) and Anthony Simone (Simones of Bright) manning the pans.
While Jessi and Jennifer Singh are cooking up a storm at their New York Babu Ji, their original St Kilda restaurant is in good hands and goes from strength to strength. So much so, owner Mani Waraich will open a sister restaurant, Piquancy, in Auburn Village on Valentine’s Day. Similar modern Indian with a Melbourne twist that makes Babu Ji such a hit will feature, along with a help-yourself beer fridge filled with 40 local and international craft beers.
Pei Modern. Melbourne
Originally slated for a quick refresh, co-owner Dave Mackintosh now flags a midyear rebirth for a reimagined Pei Modern.
The Alley, Melbourne
The Alley will deliver vegan styles to St Kilda Rd. The petite 35-seat venue is set to open in Feb. Along with an array of ‘grab and go’ lunch options, the restaurant will serve up signature vegan burgers, salads and gluten-free pastas, along with acacia bowls, cold pressed juices and biodynamic wines.
Wine 1160, Armadale
With 160 wines on a list designed by Alquimie magazine’s Josh Elias, Wine 1160 will deliver class in a glass to Armadale’s sipping set. A simple menu of wine-friendly fare will be offered — cheese, olives, charcuterie — keeping the focus firmly on the great world wine offering.
Long Chim at Crown
Australian David Thompson is universally regarded at the world’s leading expert on Thai cooking and is bringing his Long Chim (Perth, Sydney, Singapore) to Crown in Jan. Renowned for his uncompromising use of chilli, Long Chim is Thompson’s fun and casual take on the street food of Thailand. Get ready to sweat.
Scott Pickett, South Yarra
Scott Pickett, long been associated with Melbourne’s inner north — with his Estelle Bistro and ESP in Northcote, and Saint Crispin in Collingwood — is braving the north-south river crossing and has locked in plans for his first south-side venture. As part of a boutique 12-room hotel on Domain Rd, South Yarra, Pickett plans a 120-seat rotisserie-and-cooking-over-fire focused restaurant that he hopes will be open in Sept.
Rockpool Bar, city
Taking the place of short-lived The Cut steakhouse in the handsome Alfred building, the first Rockpool bar will open in autumn.
While Neil Perry’s famous Rockpool burger will be on the casual menu, the space will be a bar foremost, with a strong drink and cocktail focus.
The old Deanery restaurant in Bligh Place in the city will become modern Middle Eastern, Souk in March. Owners Ergun Elmas (Arabesque) and Vlad Kovacevic have transformed the laneway restaurant into a mosaic tiled and textiled space where chef Luke Springall (Maha, Cumulus) plans a menu featuring the flavours of Morocco, Egypt and North Africa.
Biggie Smalls, Windsor
Shane Delia’s rocking K-Bab joint is another northsider heading south in the new year. Promising the same excellent kebabs, but in slightly fancier digs — and with more booze to boot — the Chapel St addition (opposite Windsor Station) is likely to crank up the old school hip hop around August.
Harvest, South Yarra
Young gun chef Tim Martin (The European, Taxi) will open the doors to his first venture in South Yarra in Feb. Joining the Claremont St food precinct, Harvest will be bar/coffeehouse/eatery, where Tim’s focus on fermenting will inform the food and drinks list.
Wilson + Merchant, Prahran
A year behind schedule, but Paul Wilson will get the doors to his long awaited Prahran Market project open in the new year. First up, a takeaway coffee kiosk at the end of Jan, followed by an all-day cafe in mid-Feb., with the restaurant dining room with its raw seafood bar, wood-fired oven and farm-to-table ethos — and gloriously verdant streetside atrium — following in March.
Longsong at Longrain, Melbourne
One-time Circa The Prince chef, David Moyle (Franklin, Hobart) is returning to Melbourne and opening a bar above Melbourne’s perennially popular Longrain. Transforming the historic former stables into a workable bar has pushed the project back to April, but when it does open, expect Thai-influenced drink-friendly fare.
Fondata 1872, Kangaroo Ground
Chef Joseph Vargetto (Kew’s Mister Bianco, CBD’s Massi) will transform Wellers at Kangaroo Ground into Fondata 1872, an Italian bar and restaurant with the doors scheduled to open in March. With a bluestone cellar and tasting room, views across the valley and a an expansive lawn area — and Vargetto’s acclaimed regional Italian cuisine — this evolution of an iconic Yarra Valley site will be one to watch.
Nagambie Café and Brewhouse
There will be a very compelling — and delicious — reason to visit Nagambie when the Nagambie Café and Brewhouse opens at the end of the year. With a 120-seat restaurant, a microbrewery and distillery, an indoor and outdoor cafe complete with a deck overlooking Lake Nagambie, it’s an ambitious and exciting undertaking.
Henry Sugar, North Carton
Henry Sugar is a new bar in Rathdowne St in what was Piqueos. A joint venture by Kiwi chef Mike Baker (Hell of the North) and bartender Daniel Mason (Joe Taylor, Cookie), the duo are making everything in-house from bread to naturally fermented soft drinks and vinegars. It quietly opened its doors last week.
Rare Hare at Willow Creek Vineyard
A 46-room boutique hotel Jackalope will open at this Flinders winery early in the new year, complete with 30-metre infinity pool overlooking the vines and an 80-seat fine dining restaurant, Rare Hare. Guy Stanaway from Noosa’s Bistro C will serve up seasonal peninsula produce to go with the prime vineyard views.