Fitzroy's Gertrude Street is having a hospitality shake-up. Firstly: two significant takeovers. The iconic Gertrude Hotel has had its windows blacked out and plastered with glittery lightning bolts for months, but it's not a trance club moving in. Tracey Lester, owner of the Carlton Club, is reinventing the venue as Hotel Electric, a vegan-pescatarian pub that will be helmed by ex-Cutler & Co chef Tristan Newman when it opens in June. Before then, a second branch of Lester's organic juice, salad and bliss ball-slinging operation, Superfluid, will open at the rear of the venue from March 22.
Not feeling a juice cleanse? Across the street, the bar formerly known as the Wilde will soon be serving buttered steaks and champagne when it becomes Bistro Sousou – essentially a relocation of the now-defunct Brunswick Street French restaurant Madame Sousou. An opening date is yet to be announced.
The big story, though, is Messer: venue two for Ashley and Janine Davis of Seddon's pan-European bistro, Copper Pot. Part of a new apartment development, it's a 50-seater in shades of white and vivid blue operating from 11am-11pm Monday to Saturday from March 18.
The team is strong: Copper Pot's head chef Sascha Rust will lead the charge and in a dual sommelier-manager role is Wiremu Andrews, former co-owner of South Melbourne's Smalls bar.
Davis says it will be another pan-European menu, this time with a market food vibe. Expect spit-roasted pork knuckles with coleslaw, lots of seafood such as grilled sardines (on display in a big glass case) and solid dessert work from pastry chef Gemma Calleja, last at Lune Croissanterie and formerly Sydney's Quay. To draw the lunch crowd, Messer will serve giant salads and a menu del dia (three courses for $39). Look alive, Fitzroy.
Hotel Electric and Superfluid, 211 Gertrude Street; Bistro Sousou, 153 Gertrude Street; Messer, shop 1, 116 Gertrude Street.