Melbourne will finally get its taste of popular Sydney restaurant Nomad when the venue opens on Flinders Lane on November 15 with chef Brendan Katich at the helm.
A four-year undertaking by owners Al and Rebecca Yazbek, alongside executive chef Jacqui Challinor, the 100-seater is not a twin of its hatted Sydney sister, with fresh dishes, an all-Victorian team, a roster of star local suppliers and a new look for the space that was previously Ezard.
"It's bloody heartwarming that it's finally happening," says Challinor, reflecting on the past two years' events, which included a fire at the Sydney restaurant.
Katich previously worked at Ezard, with time at Teage Ezard's Gingerboy following that, and was selected by Challinor for his quick grasp of what Nomad embodies, underscored by the confidence to do his own thing.
"He wrapped his head around the concept of Nomad really quickly for someone that had never eaten at the restaurant," she says.
While the wood-fired oven drives the Melbourne menu, dishes will be a fairly even split between Nomad signatures, such as burrata with fennel jam and barbecued spatchcock, and brand-new ones that Challinor and the team are finalising this week.
Challinor arrived in Melbourne on Sunday following more than four months of being trapped behind the closed Victoria-NSW border. Before that, she was here most weeks visiting producers to establish a strong network of Victorian suppliers to drive the loosely Mediterranean and Middle Eastern menu.
The house charcuterie will be an all-Victorian affair, with Great Ocean Ducks mortadella, Blackmore and O'Connor bresaola and pastrami, and more. Saffron from the Mornington Peninsula, Ramarro Farm vegetables, and cheese from Floridia and Azzurri may also appear.
Katich already has the green light for a baked ricotta dish made with Messina Jersey milk (farmed near Shepparton), topped with anchovies and roasted bullhorn peppers.
The refitted basement, designed by Clare Cousins Architects, has far more colour than the neutral tones of Surry Hills, Challinor says, offset by concrete columns and beams that were revealed after gutting the space. Located beneath the Adelphi Hotel, the restaurant is accessed by a concealed entry.
Reservations for November 15 onwards are open.
Open Wed-Sun for lunch, daily for dinner.
187 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, 03 8419 2800, nomad.melbourne