Coming soon: Melbourne's most exciting new hospitality venues to look forward to

Chef Karen Martini is heading up a new restaurant and event space at ACMI.
Chef Karen Martini is heading up a new restaurant and event space at ACMI. Photo: Scott McNaughton

Pull out your calendars. Despite 2020's best efforts, there are some major restaurant openings on the horizon. Here's what we have marked on our dance cards in the coming months.

Karen Martini's Hero

The star chef and Good Food recipe writer is heading up a restaurant and event space that is part of a $40 million upgrade of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Ahead of the February 11 opening, Martini is plotting (and pickling) the all-day menu offering with Sydney chef Diego Rosales, who will run the show, but the fun is in the wild interactive event spaces, including a private screening room for 30, making interactive cinephilic dining a real thing. The fastidious Chris Connell is responsible for the sleek design.

Christian McCabe, owner of the Embla.

Christian McCabe, owner of Embla where sunset films will be shown on the rooftop this summer. Photo: Eddie Jim

Embla's rooftop cinema

The Theosophical building next to the cult wine bar is due for redevelopment but, in the meantime, the Embla crew have secured a short-term lease for the rooftop where, from January until May, they will run a bar in the afternoon serving Embla food and drinks and, after sunset, screen films chosen by St Kilda Film Festival creative director David Strong. Stay tuned.

Matt Stone and Jo Barrett

Matt Stone and Jo Barrett are moving into a living, breathing house at Federation Square as part of a Joost Baker project. Photo: Jana Langhorst

Future Food Systems Greenhouse by Joost

On the banks of the Yarra at Federation Square, chefs Matt Stone and Jo Barrett (formerly at Oakridge) are moving into a living, breathing house from the brain of sustainability visionary Joost Bakker. Flush with container gardens and a fish-and-yabby-filled aquaponics system, it aims to be the ultimate experiment in closed-loop living, with all waste being used as fuel and the chefs growing everything they need. Private dinners will be hosted as part of the project.

Nick Bennett, executive chef of Arbory

Executive chef of Arbory, Nick Bennett, is behind the menu of the team's huge new city venue in Lonsdale street. Photo: Supplied

Arbory team takes Lonsdale

The city isn't going to be short of seats in the New Year. The team behind the enormous open-air Arbory Bar and its floating barge is opening a five-storey monster at 270 Lonsdale Street featuring five bars and restaurants, art installations and DJs in the first half of 2021. Executive chef Nick Bennett is finalising menus with head chef Terry Clark (from Hobart's The Source), but there will be everything from breakfast through to late-night drinks on the rooftop terrace.

Martin Benn and Vicki Wild  on the terrace of their upcoming restaurant Society.

Martin Benn and Vicki Wild on the terrace of their upcoming restaurant Society. Photo: Simon Schluter



Three years after the closure of Martin Benn and Vicki Wild's three-hat Sepia in Sydney, their collaboration with restaurateur Chris Lucas is finally set for lift-off at the end of March at the luxe 80 Collins development. A monolithic bar and two dining areas seating 100 each, plus three private dining rooms, are the tip of the ambition for a venue where everything is state of the art. Benn, a master of deceptive, intricate dishes, has more than 200 recipes he has been honing in the two-year interlude. Watch out.

Sunda chef Khanh Nguyen is opening a new restaurant in 2021, Aru.

Sunda chef Khanh Nguyen is opening a new restaurant in 2021, Aru. Photo: Sunda supplied


Chef Khanh Nguyen of Sunda is throwing the net wider when he opens the Little Collins Street sequel to his contemporary south-east Asian flagship in April. Influences will come from China, India and Japan, but, as with Sunda, native Australian ingredients will play a large role, as will raw firepower and fermentation. The name is from an Indonesian group of islands that acted as a pre-colonial trading port for ingredients.


Put it in your diary for March (or April) 2021. Sydney's Nomad is finally making good on the promise to move into Melbourne, and the site they have found is a doozy: the former Ezard on Flinders Lane. Executive chef Jacqui Challinor will help shape a menu with Sydney similarities (all built over a wood-fire oven), but this is a restaurant that thrives on its terrain and will be influenced by Victorian finds.

Chef Ben Shewry at his new venue, Attica Summer Camp in Seville

Chef Ben Shewry at his new venue, Attica Summer Camp in Seville Photo: Eddie Jim

Attica Summer Camp

The final wild project for Ben Shewry, Kylie Staddon and the Attica team this year is a doozy – opening an entirely new restaurant on the grounds of Lillydale Estate winery in Seville for a five-month summer camp. Expect a wild soundtrack, campfire energy, the many kinds of merchandise Attica produced this year and a less formal menu than will remain available at the $310-a-head Ripponlea fine diner.

Chef AlejandroSaravia of Farmers Daughters.

Chef Alejandro Saravia will bring Gippsland to the city with Farmer's Daughters. Photo: Tristan Jud

Farmer's Daughters

Part of the 80 Collins development, this triple-layer venue headed by Alejandro Saravia (Pastuso) will celebrate every inch of Gippsland, from its beef, veg and dairy to its timbers, used to make the bespoke furniture. A ground floor deli and retail space will be topped by a restaurant with an open "campfire" kitchen. The rooftop bar will serve cocktails tinged with mountain pepper and Gippsland's star wines by Patrick Sullivan and William Downie.


There have been plans for more than a year to split Cape Restaurant at Cape Schanck into a fine diner to showcase chef Josh Pelham's food and more casual bistro, but for COVID. Expect an update in February, when renovations to the RACV club are complete. Meanwhile, on the Surf Coast, Matt Germanchis and Gemma Gange of much-missed Captain Moonlite are running a destination-worthy fish shop in Anglesea, which is due to get a license, but they are also actively looking to get back into a restaurant space in the region.