Tag Archives: Fine Dining

An inner city French oasis: Melbourne’s Mr Mason

“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.

One of Mr Mason’s elegantly presented dishes

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.

Anna Lisle

Mr Mason on Urbanspoon

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The Best comes to Melbourne in the form of Pei Modern

When it comes to dining in Australia, it is the North versus the South, Sydney versus Melbourne. It is a rivalry that has existed for decades and one which has only but intensified in the past few Masterchef-obsessed years.

So when Sydney’s Best comes to Melbourne, it is hard to avoid the commotion. The “Best” comes in the form of Pei Modern, a new fine-diner in Melbourne’s inner city. A double entendre, Pei Modern is the creation of Mark Best, of Sydney’s Marque Restaurant. As one of only five restaurants in New South Wales to be awarded the highly coveted title of 3 Chef Hats, Marque is the epitome of fine dining in Australia.

While Marque devotees may be disappointed to hear that Pei Modern is quite different from its Sydney sibling, Pei Modern does draw some similarities. The restaurant space, like Marque, is simple and elegant with upholstered seats and ambient lighting.

Caramelised tomato stuffed with twelve flavours and star anise ice cream

The similarities tend to stop about here. Rather than being located in the epicentre of Melbourne dining, as Marque is on Crown Street in Surry Hills, the location of Pei Modern is slightly unusual. Tucked away at the back of Collins Place, diners walk through an empty retail centre, where only a handful of couples, box of popcorn in hand, can be glimpsed heading downstairs to a movie at Kino Cinemas.

Rather than a multi-course degustation, diners to Pei Modern can enjoy simple a la carte fare, at more than reasonable prices. A selection of eight elegant dishes comprise the main menu, with matching sides, while the bar menu offers more casual drinking fare such as chicken liver parfait and croquettes. Not interested in the dinner menu? Unlike Marque, it doesn’t cost $160 to experience the Best, at Pei Modern, you can put the Best to test with breakfast for just $8.

Anna Lisle

DETAILS
The name Pei Modern is Mark’s tribute to the architect I.M. Pei, responsible for the famous inverted glass pyramids at the Louvre. The team behind Pei Modern include Mark Best of Sydney, together with Peter Bartholomew and David Mackintosh, both from MoVida. The Head Chef is Matt Germanchis (formerly of Pandora’s Box, MoVida, Fat Duck) and the restaurant manager is somellier Ainslie Lubbock (formerly of Royal Mail Hotel and Attica).

Pei Modern on Urbanspoon

Read more about Pei Modern here

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Filed under Melbourne CBD, Pei Modern, Reviews