7 Alfred Place Melbourne, VIC 3000
The grand 1880s building, originally built as the German Club, has had more lives than a cat. In its present sleek incarnation, the restaurant is in a handsome large space dominated by a vast square bar. There are cosy quiet corners, but perhaps the best places are at the bare-topped tables, lingering over a meal and something from the considerable tome of a wine list. The mood is now French bistro, a single sheet menu listing dishes of various sizes and prices, including classics and clever updates. Mount Martha mussels are not mariniere, but served with shreds of red capsicum and (less engagingly) charred sweetcorn. The old favourite of steak frites comes with a choice of cuts and size (onglet or sirloin); delicate Gippsland rabbit is dressed up with a crisp zucchini flower filled with pea and tarragon mousse, fresh peas and finely diced zucchini, and a wonderfully rich clear just-sticky jus. Desserts may include a rhubarb crumble souffle.