The Mulberry Group is set to open a two-storey restaurant with a separate basement bar in Flinders Lane before the month is out. Headed by Nathan Toleman, who has already opened Liminal cafe and Common Ground Project this year, Hazel and Dessous will welcome diners and drinkers from October 14 and 21 respectively. Both venues are in the iconic red brick Richard Allen Building, located near the top of Hosier Lane.
Hazel restaurant is an airy space with natural timbers, blondwood bentwood chairs and cream banquettes, spread over two levels that seat 65 people each. Upstairs the open kitchen is surrounded by 20 bar seats with a view of three open firepits and a wood-fired oven, where head chef Zac Nicholson, fresh from an eight-year stint at Rockpool Bar & Grill in Melbourne will tend the flames.
Downstairs, Dessous (the name literally means below) will seat 70. Customers can watch legs walk past the windows from green leather banquettes or the handsome green marble bar that hugs the open kitchen. Decidedly darker and moodier than Hazel, Dessous's menu will stands on its own. "We want people to come here for a drink before they go out and say, 'Actually, let's just stay here all night'," says Toleman.
Dessous' menu doesn't fit neatly into any category, with oysters, charcuterie and larger dishes swinging between modern European and slightly Asian. Both Dessous and Hazel have separate 120-bottle international wine lists, with about a dozen drops available by the glass. Both venues were designed by Hana Hakim from The Stella Collective, who previously worked with Toleman on Kettle Black and Liminal.
They've assembled an all-star hospitality team, including general manager Ryan Bresler and Hazel venue manager Nathan Matthew, both formerly of Sydney's Merivale Group, as well as Dessous venue manager Sarah Reilly (ex. Pt. Leo Estate).
Hazel will open Mon-Sat noon-4pm & 6-11pm and Sun 11am-5pm from October 14, on levels 1 & 2, 164 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, 9070 4938, hazelrestaurant.com.au
Dessous will open Mon-Sat 5pm-late from October 21, in the basement, 164 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, dessous.com.au