“I drink to make other people more interesting”. Scribbled by hand on the restaurant’s walls, this Ernest Hemmingway quote is one of the first things that I notice, and love, about Mr Mason.
An adult’s playground, Mr Masonis divided into three separate spaces, including a lounge, dining and terrace area. Small injections of drama can be seen throughout the restaurant space from the large wooden beams, taken from Melbourne’s original train station, to the thick, wrought iron fencing mesh that is used to separate the formal dining area and bar. This transparent barrier allows guests to enjoy an intimate meal, while still being entertained by the bar staff. For those not interested in people watching, original, black-leather bound, editions of Encyclopaedia Britannica Wooden line the dining area’s shelves, while hand-written quotes (in a similar vein to Ernest Hemmingway’s above) and bottles of Veuve Clicquot decorate the walls. The lounge area is equally charming in a masculine, New York style way with an open brick fireplace, black leather chairs and copper lights that hang seductively from the ceiling. As one of the only venues in Melbourne’s CBD that offers an outdoor dining area, Mr Mason’s terrace is cool and casual with green and yellow stools and a wall garden at one end.
Divided into small, medium and large dishes, the French-inspired menu is presented in rustic and honest sensibility. In keeping with this attitude, the portion sizes are more than generous; however, this is done without compromising the quality or the elegance of the dish.
Some of the culinary thrills are the hushed kind, like the way lightly fried river prawns are scattered over the crisp skin and white flesh of roasted hapuka. Others are scene-stealers, like the pretty mound of salmon tartare, luxuriously covered in crème fraiche and scattered with nasturtium flowers. A few of the features are flat-out luxurious, like the small bundles of bone marrow adorning tournedos of beef and sitting on a carpet of little potato fondants.
Owned by The Publican Group and under the relentless guidance of Manager Jason Weaffer, Mr Mason offers an elegant French-inspired dining experience that is well-worth the somewhat difficult task of actually finding the restaurant.