From left: Stokehouse co-owner Frank van Haandel, interior designer Pascale Gomes-McNabb and chef Anthony Musarra at Stokehouse City.
From left: Stokehouse co-owner Frank van Haandel, interior designer Pascale Gomes-McNabb and general manager Anthony Musarra at Stokehouse City. Photo: Angela Wylie

Roslyn Grundy

Stokehouse City is gearing up to become party central from May 29, when it opens with a bar, restaurant and a bijou nightclub under one roof. While they prepare for work to begin on the new Stokehouse in St Kilda, about 40 staff members are regrouping at the former Comme in Alfred Place, which will become Stokehouse City until early next year.

Melbourne designer Pascale Gomes-McNabb, who has worked on restaurants such as Cutler & Co, Cumulus Inc and Sydney's Claude's and Monopole, has added an urban feel to the historic Alfred Place building, once home to the now-legendary Mietta's restaurant. She's saved what she can from the previous Hecker Guthrie design, including a marble bar that will be the centrepiece of the buzzy downstairs bar-eatery. It's getting a frame covered in lengths of pale timber, evoking a windblown fence, says Gomes-McNabb. Drinks and food such as oysters, fresh-baked focaccia and pasta will be available at the bar, says general manager Anthony Musarra.

A small room beneath the stairs, which previously housed Comme's dining room, will become a hidden speakeasy nightclub, with a DJ Thursday to Sunday.

The imposing gold rush-era staircase at Stokehouse City.
The imposing gold rush-era staircase at Stokehouse City. Photo: Roslyn Grundy

And Oliver Gould is putting the finishing touches to the menu for the “relaxed fine dining” restaurant, in the period ballroom upstairs, which will seat 110. Expect things like spanner crab and tomato tagliatelle, Jurassic quail saltimbocca with roast celeriac and chestnut cream, and "the bloody bombe", as Musarra jokingly calls their signature white chocolate parfait, strawberry sorbet and toasted meringue dessert.

The St Kilda restaurant was razed by fire on January 17. Work is expected to get under way soon on its replacement, a contemporary design by Robert Simeoni.

Stokehouse City will open daily from May 29 at 7 Alfred Place, city.