The opening of Melbourne's boldest, brightest, new restaurant has hit a small snag. The power has yet to fire up at 401 Collins Street, where Morgan McGlone (Belles Hot Chicken) and Michael Delaney (Honky Tonks) have joined forces to create an all-day operation that should, they hope, resemble something like Peter Luger meets the oyster bar at Grand Central Station and the Museum of Natural History itself. Your ETA to get at a kilo rib-eye is March 14.
Still, here's what to expect. McGlone initially said this could be "his last restaurant". He also alluded to it being a bird-flip to the Sydney hospitality crowd who have been getting too smug. But if you're expecting a platform for the one-time fine-dining Husk chef to pull out the big guns again, Natural History will be more about attitude than innovation.
"We're bringing back the three martini lunch," says McGlone. Details are to be locked in but the idea will be to get one of the giant green booths, a one kilogram T-bone, and down three martinis in a session overseen by the taxidermied mountain goat, foxes and albino peacock in Delaney's insane tableaux.
That cool $25,000 of taxidermy, laid out across three dioramas, might have grabbed most attention, but Delaney has covered every surface with rattan, light boxes, brass trim, weird art and parquetry to set a wild, luxe party tone.
On pans, McGlone is hiring line cooks to turn out the stuff of classic – and modern – American grills. See prawn cocktails and tuna with herby, acidic French sauce ravigote that may be a hat tip to Manhattan's The Grill. See also pork chops and Barnsley chops (double the loin) and the odd crab lasagne and vegetable dishes. "The food won't change the world, but it will be really good," says McGlone.
Booze-wise, McGlone's tempering his love of natural wines with a list that's 50-50 geared to skin contact stuff and traditional bottles. Craft beers will meet Carlton Draught straight from a big CUB tank.
The counter out front, filled with hundreds of old matchbooks, will serve coffee and pastries from 7am; porchetta rolls and an express menu by day and aperitifs as the suits are freed from work. Let's hope it tastes as good as it looks.
Natural History opens March 14 at 401 Collins Street, Melbourne, naturalhistorybarandgrill.com.au