John Lawson has left No. 8 to chase his dream.
John Lawson has left No. 8 to chase his dream. Photo: Supplied

Roslyn Grundy

John Lawson has left the building. After almost three years with his name on the door at Crown's No.8 by John Lawson, the British chef has quit to chase his dream restaurant.

Lawson, 33, came to Melbourne in 2010 after getting a call from Gordon Ramsay to head up Ramsay's short-lived Crown Metropol restaurant Maze, jumping across to No.8 when it closed.

A serious health scare last year has prompted Lawson's latest move. After recovering from a brain tumour and returning to the kitchen, Lawson felt he'd lost the love.

"I want to do my own thing without too many restrictions. I feel I've got more in me. I have this dream of a small place outside the city."

He's scoping out the Mornington Peninsula for somewhere quaint, where he can grow vegetables and run a small restaurant and cooking classes.

Meanwhile Crown is rethinking the concept for the 13-year-old restaurant. Western? Eastern? Everything is up for discussion, says the executive general manager of food and beverage, Mark Holmes.

Until the decision is made, the restaurant will revert to No. 8, with a menu of favourites such as salt and pepper calamari, porcini risotto and dry-aged grass-fed steak.