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Gimlet at Cavendish House

Bars, Restaurants Melbourne
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Photograph: Supplied
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Photograph: Supplied
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Photograph: Supplied

Time Out says

Opened in mid-July after multiple Covid-related delays, this Russell Street venue is Andrew McConnell’s first new venture in five years. But as you walk into the grandiose space, you may just decide that it was worth the wait.

The 1920s architecture of the Cavendish House building carries through to the interiors, delivered by Sydney design house ACME. Art deco flourishes, marble countertops, chandeliers and leather booths combine to create a nostalgic bistro look – a conscious nod towards the clubby dining rooms of Chicago. 

But this is, first and foremost, a cocktail bar, as the name and layout remind you. The black-and-gold marble bar is both the focal point of the space and its primary showpiece, with the dining area wrapping around it and extending to the upstairs level. Adjoining the bar is the open kitchen, which turns out snacky appetisers to accompany your drinks, as well as lunch and dinner daily. On weekends there’s an added brunch service, plus live music in the afternoons. 

The food, like the decór, flirts with Atlantic glamour. Expect indulgent ingredients like oysters, escargot, marron, truffles and dry-aged duck on the menu. Also: wood-fired everything. Head chef Allan Doert Eccles (previously at Cutler and Co, another McConnell property) is clearly having fun playing with fire. Don’t let the classic cocktails and pre-war design fool you; there’s nothing old-fashioned going on on your plate.

Crisp pillows of gnocco fritto are accompanied by rosettes of bresaola. And the standout dish is roast chicken spiced up by a vadouvan jus – a nod to the French take on Indian cuisine – primped with fried curry leaves. It’s sophisticated yet comforting. The portions, however, are on the leaner side and we recommend ordering big.

It’s an all-star affair too with Shane Lazzo (Rockpool) as maitre d' and award-winning sommelier Leanne Altmann offering up her expertise. 

As for the drinks, Cameron Parish (Everleigh) leads the bar team and offers a well-curated menu. Martinis offer a small flight of olives to try on the side, and the venue’s namesake – the signature Gimlet – is delicate with flowers dancing atop it, and packs a perfect, citrussy punch.

Dessert is a soft, baked Valrhona chocolate number. Rich and mousse-like, it’s balanced by flakes of sea salt and creme fraiche. Order a nightcap, and be on your way.

Details

Address: Cavendish House
33 Russell St
Melbourne
3000
Cross street: Flinders Ln
Contact:
Opening hours: Sun-Thu noon-midnight; Fri-Sat noon-1am; Sun 9am-1am
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