New Vietnamese diner from Smith and Dandelion graduates

Front-of-house professional Rene Spence (most recently at Prahran's the Smith) and chef Dai Duong, late of Elwood's Dandelion, are opening a new Vietnamese diner called Uncle at 188 Carlisle Street, St Kilda. After looking for a space for the past few months, the pair, who worked together at Pelican (also in St Kilda), found a former shoe shop that's ''loads bigger than we were planning, but it's such a great space, we've gone with it'', Spence says.

Uncle will have a bar and dining space for 30 downstairs and further seating for 120 upstairs with an outdoor terrace. Spence says the food will be ''casual and good value; we want people to feel they can come often''. His wife, Ruth Laird Spence, of Fork Ceramics, will create all the crockery for the diner, and the interior will be conceived by city-based designers Foolscap Studio. Uncle should be open by mid-October.