Proving their partnership has many more chapters before the book closes, Melbourne restaurant entrepreneur Con Christopoulos and chef cum all-around food man Ian Curley are set to unveil plans for their Kirk’s site in Melbourne’s Hardware Lane.
Already a stylish ground floor wine bar, Kirk’s is going up, down and sideways. First cab off the rank is a stylish upstairs bistro, French Saloon, run by former Golden Fields and Supernormal chef Todd Moses. “Confident bistro is the brief,” says Curley, who has overseen the restoration of an upstairs dining room, private room and terrace, and the installation of a modern kitchen within two shipping containers, simply dropped on top of the heritage building once known as Kirk’s Bazaar Hotel. The weekdays-only restaurant includes a lovely Parisian manufactured zinc bar. Opening by the end this month.
Then comes the launch, next door in Little Bourke Street, of Kirk’s Public Bar, “a proper pub bar with proper counter meals”, says the chef. Due to open by May, this project includes excavation of a massive cellar, for private functions, that will link the wine bar and Saloon below ground. It’s ambitious stuff and follows the pattern Christopoulos set at the European … many venues within a rabbit warren of the one site.
Chef turned restaurant exec Anthony Musarra has quietly left the Van Haandel building in Melbourne after more than nine years. Musarra joined St Kilda’s Stokehouse as executive chef back in 2006 and became general manager before going on to support entrepreneur Frank Van Haandel in several ventures (including the establishment of Brisbane’s Stokehouse Q) and partnering with him at the Ladro pizza restaurants (since sold back to the original owners). Musarra (who would not return our calls) left Stokehouse responsibilities to concentrate on Van Haandel’s Fatto Cantina earlier this year and has now left altogether, according to an internal memo seen by First Bite. What went wrong? Replacing Musarra as venue manager at Fatto is head chef James Kummrow .
MoVida’s first offshore branding exercise opens in February at the new Katamama hotel in Bali’s increasingly frenetic and sophisticated Seminyak. The hotel is the second under the Katamama brand (another is planned for nearby Canggu). MoVida’s Frank Camorra tells us it’s a licensing arrangement “with key staff in place”.
It’s not just Spanish Australians heading to Bali. Sydney concept machine Maurice Terzini says that while a proposed “beach club” at the on-hold Sea Sentosa project at Canggu beach is up in the air, an osteria-pizzeria — probably branded Da Maria — is still alive for the rip-roaring Jalan Petitenget street in Seminyak. Terzini is in bed, commercially speaking, with expat Australian entrepreneur Adrian Reed, of Motel Mexicola and Salty Seagull. Rome architecture firm Lazzarini Pickering has done the plans and Terzini expects a launch in the new financial year. Plans for a Sydney CBD osteria-pizzeria — Da Maurizio — are on track for the same time. “It’s a difficult space but difficult spaces can be cool,” Terzini says of the site in Penfold Place near Martin Place. “I want more emphasis on single diners at street level, there’s not enough of that in the city.” There will be a wood oven for pizza and another for meats and vegetables. Meantime, talk of a Melbourne version in Crossley Street, sharing space with his friend and architect Matthew Herbert, is premature, he says.
With the regions continuing to attract chefs of serious calibre, it’s no surprise to hear of a new business in Victoria’s bustling Daylesford launching with a talented city tree-changer on the pans. Enter Belvedere Social where Francophile chef Sean Marshall, fresh from a recent “stage” at Manhattan’s 11 Madison Park, will work with Belvedere co-owner Bernard Glaude to create a “fresh” French bistro (with a more ambitious restaurant menu planned for next year), opening soon. Marshall made his name in Melbourne as head chef of the well-rated Hell of the North. He worked for Philippe Mouchel at PM 24 and has considerable experience under his belt working in France, too. “It’s always been my professional dream to work with Australian produce cooking my own version of French food,” says Marshall, recently arrived in the popular tourism town. “I finally have my chance.”
Not far away, in Hepburn Springs, it’s rumoured former Melbourne (Lincoln Hotel) and Daylesford (Farmers Arms) publican Simon Bevanda — a man with a rare touch for hospitality — is breaking out of gentlemanly retirement. We understand he will take over a property he owns in the village to create a wine bar with simple food.
Sydney restaurateurs Erez Gordon and Paul Cooper (Bishop Sessa, Surry Hills) have thrown in the towel at Melbourne’s Dog’s Bar, where they had a management deal with the St Kilda building’s owner. “It was always a ‘give it a try’ proposition for us, but we decided we’d do better putting our energy into exploring new opportunities up here,” says Gordon. New operators Gavin and Sonya Breen, both chefs and from Ireland, have leased Dog’s Bar and took over less than a week ago.