It's been almost two years since St Kilda fine diner Circa closed and became an event space, and almost a year since it closed completely. But, thanks to a multi-stage revival of the entire Prince of Wales complex, the restaurant will reopen in late November as the Prince Dining Room.
t's set to be a much more casual operation than its former iteration, which received its second chef's hat in The Age Good Food Guide months before closing. Executive chef Dan Hawkins (ex-Stokehouse) and head chef Dan Cooper (ex-Garden State Hotel) have put together a Mediterranean-leaning menu for the Prince Dining Room, which focuses on vegetables and side dishes. Everything is designed to share.
The dining room itself is unrecognisable from its Circa days. With the exception of a few load-bearing pillars, the space has been opened up completely, with views of Fitzroy Street possible throughout the restaurant. Iva Foschia, from IF Architecture, is responsible for the design, with its custom blackened steel elliptical bar, Italian marble, American oak tables and touches of green and copper to offset the original hardwood floors.
The Prince Dining Room forms the second phase of the complex's revival. The first was the refurbishment of the hotel and deck, which was completed in March. The third, which will take place early next year, will replace the ground floor public bar and Acland Street Cantina with the Prince Pub, a meat-centric gastropub.
The Melbourne Pub Group bought the hotel from John and Lisa van Haandel in 2011. It's now managed by Gerry Ryan, previously a silent partner in the venture. Louis Li, who also owns Mornington Peninsula boutique hotel Jackalope, is the owner.