Chef Elijah Holland has left South Melbourne fine-diner Lume to spearhead Loti, the flagship restaurant at a new luxury apartment development in St Kilda.
The iconic St Kilda Esplanade site where the St Moritz ice rink was situated until an infamous fire in 1982 will be reborn as the Saint Moritz complex by property developer Gurner.
Hospitality consultants Atypical Agency are overseeing 13 food and beverage outlets, mostly for residents, in the first Melbourne foray by director Cameron Northway (Rocker in Bondi, The Gunmakers, London).
"There's a pool lounge, sports bar, champagne bar, private cinema and a speakeasy," says Holland. "I like to keep busy and this will keep me very busy."
At Loti – "lady of the ice" – he's aiming for a coastal European feel using Australian food from the sea and its fringe, putting his experience as a forager to good use.
The experience will be more accessible than Lume's high-concept tasting menus. "You'll be able to come for raw shucked clams or 16 courses. The menu will be fun and playful, with a little bit of theatre."
Early dish ideas include Flinders Island lamb skewers barbecued over charcoal and served with saltbush ajvar (roasted capsicum relish), and an artichoke tarte tatin with wild cardoons and ale-washed cheese. Sea parsley and fresh capers will enliven grilled turbot ribs.
"I'm thinking fresh, vibrant, crisp," says Holland, who is also researching menus from the old ice rink restaurant. "It's an exciting project. It's great to have my accent on everything from the beginning."
Loti will open in May at 14-16 The Esplanade, St Kilda.