The Venzin Group unveils its stunning Bali-inspired open-air locale Melrose in Bulimba
The team behind Pawpaw, Pawpaw Asian Kitchen and Darvella Patisserie is levelling up with its new Thai- and Indonesian-influenced concept Melrose. Drawing upon Bali’s unbeatable beach-luxe lifestyle, the Venzin Group’s crown jewel boasts a seductive atmosphere, cocktails that transport tastebuds to the sandy shores of Seminyak and a menu of eats (created by Longrain’s former head chef) that encompasses grilled skewers, mouth-watering curries and everything in between. Bulimba’s new game-changing venue opens on Wednesday May 12, but we’re able to give you a cheeky preview peek. Read on for the goods …
Melrose is not only Giorgina Venzin’s dream venue, it’s also her most ambitious. In a time when the prospect of jetting overseas seems as far out of reach as it has ever been, the mastermind behind lauded Woolloongabba eatery Pawpaw has sought to bring a piece of beamish Balinese hospitality to her home town – summoning the essence of Seminyak and channelling the luxury of Canggu at the river end of Oxford Street. Following hot on the heels of the January opening of the Venzin Group’s Swiss-inspired cake, coffee and croissant dispensary Darvella, Melrose is also the beneficiary of the same auspicious circumstances that brought its patisserie sibling to Bulimba in the first place. When Giorgina and co-owner Chris Hollingsworth signed on to legitimise Pawpaw’s doughnut-oriented pivot with a permanent home at Oxford Street’s new multi-use micro precinct, the team was also presented a vacant space one level above as a separate opportunity. The site – perched above and slightly removed from the bustle of the street – aligned perfectly with Giorgina’s long-held vision of a Bali-inspired dining destination, and soon after swaying the landlords to allow the installation of a retractable roof (a must-have make-or-break feature, according to Giorgina), plans were quickly drawn up and building began right after Darvella debuted. With help from construction maestros Tonic Projects, Giorgina and Chris have crafted a fit-out that draws upon the laid-back luxury of Bali’s high-end beach clubs. Ascending upstairs and through the entrance, guests are greeted by an understated-yet-sophisticated aesthetic boasting neutral tones and beachy textures (think rattan chairs, bleached timber, terracotta tiling, brown-leather banquettes, natural brickwork and soft lighting) spread across the bar and casual-dining space, and the main dining area nestled next to the kitchen.
Speaking of the kitchen, the Venzin Group has pulled off quite a coup when it comes to its culinary recruitment. Helming the kitchen is Arté Assavakavinvong, formerly head chef at esteemed modern Thai restaurant Longrain in Melbourne. After reaching out to him via direct message, Giorgina piqued Arté’s interest with her pitch for Melrose’s culinary ethos – its focus on Indonesian and Thai cuisine aligning perfectly with Arté’s epicurean oeuvre. Here, Thai and Indonesian recipes are filtered through the alembic of Arté’s mind, resulting in a menu that relishes simplicity in presentation, but complexity in depth of flavour. There is no prototypical Melrose dining experience – guests can curate their meal from a selection of small appetite-whetting bites and more substantial shares. Snacks like betel leaf with prawn, coriander, roasted coconut and peanuts, crispy chicken ribs with sambal balacan, Moreton Bay bug steamed buns with chilli jam, and yellowfin tuna larb with roasted rice and crispy wonton lead into a cluster of charcoal skewers. In the kitchen, clay pot hibachi grills lovingly sear speared portions of beef, sticky pork and okra, creating clean flavours that can be accentuated with additional house-made condiments (sriracha, prik nahm plar, sambal matah and nahm prik kra). Once your hunger is primed, bigger plates of grilled turmeric spatchcock, crispy pork belly with babi kecap and ar-jard, beef short rib rendang curry, twice-cooked half duck, and stir-fried soft-shell crab with curry powder and Chinese celery will ensure everyone departs contented. As spice is a fixture across the menu, it’s best to have a drink on hand. Melrose’s 70-strong wine list showcases bottles from Italy, Greece, France, Australia and Africa, while the libation list also boasts a bevy of smashable cocktails imbued with some tasty Thai- and Indonesian-inspired twists.
Melrose officially opens to the public on Wednesday May 12. Head to the Stumble Guide for booking, contact and menu info!
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