From mid-December to mid-January is hospitality's quiet period, but it's also an opportunity for venues to get their bearings and practise service on smaller numbers as Melburnians head off on holidays. Here's what opened over the break, as well as a few extras to look forward to.
If you're not into bad language, loud music and leather, you're going to miss out on one hell of a burger. Hailing from Sydney, Mary's opened in Melbourne on Sunday after a two-month delay. There's an iron chandelier decorated with 24,000 dead rose stems and a mezzanine level in the 140-seat burger grotto, which also has a killer natural wine list and vegan menu. Goodbye, healthy New Year's resolution.
167 Franklin Street, Melbourne, getfat.com.au
Fish by Moonlite
Last week, chef Matt Germanchis and partner Gemma Gange announced on Instagram that Captain Moonlite would have its final day of trade on March 1. Unable to come to a new agreement with the Anglesea Surf Life Saving Club, where it resides, they'll join a public tender process with a decision expected in late March. In the meantime they'll focus on Fish by Moonlite, their new seafood shop and fish and chipper, which opened a day before the announcement.
Shop 4, Anglesea Shopping Village, Great Ocean Road, Anglesea
Brigitte Hafner of Graceburn and Tedesca. Photo: James Broadway
At the turn of the decade, Gertrude Street Enoteca's owner-chef Brigitte Hafner opened Graceburn & Tedesca, an agriturismo (the new term for a farm stay) on the historic Red Hill property that housed Noel's Cafe & Gallery. But you don't have to book into the luxe accommodation to eat at the osteria, which will feature wood-fired dishes made from farm produce, including Hafner's own.
1175 Mornington-Flinders Road, Red Hill, tedesca.com.au
Jamsheed Urban Winery
Jamsheed Wines has progressed its mission to demystify vino by bringing it to the city. Known for exciting, minimal-intervention drops made from vineyards across Victoria, Jamsheed opened a working winery, cellar door and barrel hall in a Preston warehouse on December 19. Wine is available by the glass or bottle alongside snacks such as fresh ricotta with lemon, chilli and olives.
4 Albert Street, Preston, jamsheed.com.au
Thai Town opened a couple of weeks ago across from the Ippudo ramen haven at QV. The 200-seat restaurant, from the team behind Thai Alley in Eastland Shopping Centre, specialises in street food. There are different stations: watch women toss meatballs into boat noodles, order from the dessert bar, shop at the small Thai grocer or get fried goodies to go in branded cardboard boxes.
Shop 25, Artemis Lane, QV Shopping Centre, thaitownqv.com.au
Quietly opening beneath a shiny apartment building on the second Friday of December, Faye is a small neighbourhood bar and restaurant that pours wines "not mucked about with", mostly from Australia, France and Italy. Ask what's available by the glass for the day and stay for a bite – perhaps grub-shaped malloreddus pasta with cuttlefish, and tripe ragu.
Shop 1, 22-30 Lygon Street, Brunswick East, fayebr.com
Patrick Sullivan (left) and Christian McCabe of Punchin' Bottles. Photo: Elika Rowell
Embla's Christian McCabe and winemaker Patrick Sullivan have joined forces to open Punchin' Bottles, a bottle shop slinging minimal-intervention wines in the former Lewis' Music Store on Russell Street. Unfortunately it's only temporary as the site, next door to Embla, is due to be demolished later this year. The renovation has been minimal – shelves stacked with wine rather than CDs; a painted floor. It's retail-only so you can't drink or snack in, but there will be regular in-house tastings with local winemakers such as Gentle Folk's Gareth Belton and importers like Campbell Burton.
124 Russell Street, Melbourne
Bread Club came about after second-generation French baker Tim Beylie and fellow expat Brice Antier met at Vue de Monde. It opens on Wednesday, servicing the community with high-quality sourdough made from local ingredients and traditional slow methods, along with sandwiches, pies and danishes. There are 20 seats to sit and enjoy Inglewood coffee with the rotating filled croissant, available at weekends. First up: a take on the banana split.
558 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne
Chef moves from McConnell to Mamasita
After spending most of his career as head chef at Andrew McConnell's Cutler & Co., Marion, Supernormal Canteen and as co-owner of Luxembourg (RIP), Chris Watson is coming on board as Mamasita's executive chef in time for the restaurant's 10th birthday. Working with Mamasita head chef Martin Zozaya he will also oversee Hotel Jesus in Collingwood. Mamasita's double digits will be marked on February 22 with daytime margarita masterclasses and a degustation dinner collaboration between Zozoya and co-founder Jason Jones, who's flying in from Singapore to help cook 10 dishes that best represent Mamasita ($110 a head, 5.30pm or 8.30pm).
Level 1, 11 Collins Street, Melbourne, mamasita.com.au
Keep an eye out for…
Hawker Chan, the Michelin-starred street-food vendor from Singapore, is opening its third and fourth Melbourne outlets in Box Hill Central on January 31, with an extended menu featuring hawker-style fried chicken and noodle soups.
Shane Delia has papered up the windows of Biggie Smalls at 86 Smith Street, Collingwood, to make way for Maha Bar, bringing Middle Eastern cocktails and meze to the inner north, from February 20.
Chef-restaurateur Jessi Singh (Daughter In Law, Horn Please, Don't Tell Aunty, Babu Ji NYC, Babu Ji) is opening a 65-seat bar and restaurant at the Grossi family's former Pezzo site at 88 Flinders Lane at the start of February. Called Mrs Singh, the menu showcases Singh's experiences across India, Australia and the States.