Julian Gurner and chef Paul Wilson at the Newmarket Cellar Bar.
Rethinking the direction ... Julian Gerner and chef Paul Wilson at the Newmarket Cellar Bar. Photo: Wayne Taylor

It was touted as the antithesis of the casual dining trend, but only a few months after opening the Newmarket Hotel's Cellar Bar has put its ambitious fine dining offer on ice.

The Melbourne Pub Group’s Julian Gerner said the St Kilda venue would continue to trade on Friday and Saturday nights only, with a bar menu replacing chef Paul Wilson’s luxe Latin American degustation.

"Part of the problem was launching just before summer," he said.

"Melburnians like shorts and thongs and didn’t take to something more formal. We probably bit off more than we could chew."

He said they would rethink the direction at the end of March.  Bookings will be honoured for the next two weekends, then a bar menu will be offered.

It’s a rare misfire for the Group, which has built its reputation on a canny reading of the market across venues the Albert Park and Middle Park Hotels as well as the Newmarket. It also recently launched the Acland Street Cantina at the Prince of Wales hotel.