Will the Mayfair be Melbourne's answer to Hubert, Sydney's rock star neoclassical French bistro? Not entirely. The vibe is more New York supper clubs of the 1930s, the glorious era of fast talk and the Lindy Hop. But that's still in the pre-war party ballpark and close enough.
The site used to be Pei Modern. The backer is still David Mackintosh, with new partner Joe Jones from cocktail bar Romeo Lane and chef Ron O'Bryan (ex Church Street Enoteca and Collingwood's the Vine).
When the Mayfair opens on September 5, it will be a cocktail bar, restaurant and late-night lounge. Expect cocktails made famous by the Waldorf Astoria and the Ritz; oysters, steaks and omelettes until 1am and a live band playing jazz a few nights a week.
The formerly stark space is being rebuilt with a bit more romance. Venetian blinds will thankfully block the view of the Sofitel forecourt. The dining room, still separated from the drinking area by the central bar, will be carpeted, candlelit, chandeliered and filled with scalloped leather booths. There may even be a stuffed peacock and piano – fingers crossed.
There will be Elle Frederick, who has come from Sydney's Bentley group to manage the venue, and a wine list split into old school (classic varietals, bottles with age) and new school (non-terrible examples of envelope-pushing winemaking).
O'Bryan's menu reads like the death row wish list of diners who rant about missing Real Restaurants. It's caviar and foie gras parfaits and cotes de boeuf with bordelaise. But it also caters to mod kids with marron tails in konbu butter and celeriac baked in an ash crust. Later in the night, cheese and whisky trolleys will do the rounds. From 11pm to 1am the supper menu will deliver bowls of pasta, three-cheese omelettes and steak and eggs. Woof.
With nearby Arlechin also serving until 3am, the theatre district is about to thoroughly stick it to Sydney and its early bedtime. (Take that, Marco Pierre White.)
The Mayfair will open on September 5; Tue-Sat 5pm-1am and Fri lunch.
Sofitel Melbourne on Collins forecourt, 45 Collins Street, Melbourne