Tag Archives: Melbourne CBD

The essence of the Melbourne Marriott

With stunning floor-to-ceiling windows, Essence Restaurant at the Melbourne Marriott Hotel capitalises on its central corner location offering sensational street-views to diners. In keeping with its aim to impress, the restaurant’s design boasts a contemporary flair – decorated in hues of chocolate and finished with comfy suede-back chairs and banquettes.

Essence boasts a prime CBD location

Chef Clinton Jackson, formally of the Surfers Paradise Marriott, heads the kitchen at Essence, offering a succinct menu studded with the restaurant’s signature dishes. A roasted beetroot salad, plated with walnuts, caramelised shallots, fetta cheese and a honey-thyme vinaigrette is tangy and flavourful, while a seafood stack for two comes highly recommended, displaying both hot and cold servings of Western Australian prawns, steamed New Zealand mussels, freshly shucked oysters, blue swimmer crab, Tasmanian salmon and salt and pepper calamari. Steaks are sourced from local Victorian farms and are served in a delicate pepper rub with perfectly cut chips on the side. The crispy-skin salmon, said to be Essence’s star dish, impresses with its sweet manuka honey soy dressing, crunchy asparagus and kipfler potatoes. The wine list features a good selection of wines by the glass, with a focus on Victorian and Western Australian varieties, while a range of premium champagnes and Australian sparkling are available for celebrating.

Steaks are sourced from local Victorian farms

Desserts are a highlight at Essence and its hot chocolate fondant served with an orange salad and sorbet certainly makes a mark in any foodie’s culinary conscience. This dish has been a firm favourite at Essence since and after just one mouthful, it is easy to understand why. If diners are rushing to get to a show, a theatre menu is also available in two- or three-course express options, while sharp service ensures that your opening curtain will not be missed.

Aphrodite Vlahos

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The perfect neighbourhood restaurant, The Mess Hall

The Mess Hall is an unpretentious diner, in the heart of Melbourne’s theatre district.

Under the helm of Frank Stella (who also owns Stellini Bar on Little Collins Street), The Mess Hall is the ideal neighbourhood restaurant. Residing in what seems to be a former split-level terrace, the restaurant space is flooded with natural light and detailed with Victorian architecture. Bright and airy, guests are welcomed by efficient, friendly staff and a wave of appetising aromas from the kitchen. Scents of butter, bread and olive oil provide the perfect appetite stimulator and create a homely atmosphere in the restaurant.

Split over two levels, the atmosphere at The Mess Hall is homely and relaxed

Despite its no bookings policy, the turnover of tables is quick and we are quickly ushered to an intimate table near the kitchen. A far cry from an army mess hall, this restaurant has established a reputation as a reliable provider of terrific pizza and pasta dishes of a northern Italian bent. In true Italian spirit, the starters are designed for sharing with dishes such as calamari fritti and harissa croquettes. The pizza, pasta and main plate menus are generously-sized – with the standout choice being the sausage, provolone and chilli pizza. The beetroot salad with Bulgarian fetta, Japanese mushrooms, yoghurt and herbs works well as a side dish, offering a fresh reprieve from some of the heavier Italian dishes.

The Mess Hall embodies all the makings of the perfect neighbourhood restaurant – it is consistent, casual and full of charm.

Anna Lisle

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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

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