George Calombaris is aiming high with the Press Club mark 2, which opens on December 9.
He has declared he wants the intimate Flinders Street space to become the world's No. 1 modern Greek restaurant. Since closing the flagship's first incarnation in April and reopening the space as Gazi, Made Establishment has spent $2 million remodelling the site, including employing North Melbourne-based March Studios to create the new Press Club, a gold-and-tan dining room in the former Little Press bar, which will seat up to 34 guests at 10 booth tables.
''The brief was to create an intimate space without feeling pompous or too stiff,'' says Calombaris, who will again draw on his Greek heritage for flavour inspiration.
Next door is Press Club Projects, a test kitchen and private dining room for eight. It will offer a chance for chef and diners to experience food magic and perhaps the odd flop. The Press Club will be open for lunch and dinner from Monday to Friday. Press Club Projects will be open by appointment only (phone 9677 9677).
It's been a year of shake-ups for the Made Establishment group, which announced last week it was transforming South Yarra Greek-Italian restaurant Mama Baba into Le Grand Cirque, with TV chef Manu Feildel overseeing a simple French menu. This was followed with another announcement that CBD French bistro PM24 will become funky Asian joint, Lucy Liu's Kitchen & Bar.
Lucy Liu's will be owned and operated by chef Michael Lambie, who co-owns The Smith restaurant and bar in Prahran, with Made Establishment co-director George Sykiotis, independent of the group. Lambie will take Philippe Mouchel's share in PM24. Mouchel declined to comment, beyond saying that he hopes to stay in Melbourne.
PM24 and Mama Baba will close on January 26, reopening in their new guises in the first half of 2014.