For those who miss Northcote's Merricote, former head chef Matt Binney and partner Bianca will this week open bistro-cafe Heartswood in Yarra Glen.
After tossing up between a city or country venue, Binney settled on the small township's former bank of Australasia to allow for a more relaxed business model of breakfast and lunch from Thursday to Monday and weekend-only dinners. The pair have done much of the fitout of the 40-seat restaurant themselves. A courtyard and street seats will come into play over summer.
By day, Binney says they'll hit the high end Melbourne cafe benchmarks, serving Dukes coffee, an obligatory whipped avocado dish, scaling up to kimchi pancakes with confit duck leg.
Dinner will feature enough snacks to make casual wine dining possible, including chicken liver parfait profiteroles with PX jelly, oxtail doughnuts and small plates such as raw trout with cultured cream and wasabi leaves or lamb tartare.
Larger dishes such as a built-to-order smoked eel lasagne will allow you to have your own dinner but you can share if you must.
Former Merricote owners Rob and Bronwyn Kabboord have helped advise the first-time operators, also creating the tight wine list starring passionate next generation producers including Mac Forbes and Dom Valentine. Laura Burn of Gembrook's Independent will run the floor.
Heartwood will open Thu-Mon 8.30am-4.30pm; Fri and Sat 8.30am-late at 25 Bell Street, Yarra Glen.