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  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne
  1. Beef Wellington.
    Photograph: Supplied
  2. Glamorous bar and restaurant with mirrors and plush red seating.
    Photograph: Dianna Snape
  3. Elegantly plated dessert.
    Photograph: Supplied
  4. Dolly's bar and restaurant space.
    Photograph: Dianna Snape
  5. Bartender setting a cocktail on fire.
    Photograph: Supplied

Time Out says

Slink downstairs to the bottom of Le Meridien to meet Dolly, a brand new cocktail bar and restaurant aglow with the glamour of Old Hollywood

Snugly situated in the basement of the new Le Méridien Melbourne, Dolly is an immersive restaurant and cocktail bar that transports its guests back in time to the glamour and mystique of 1930s cinema. Meander down the curved Art Deco staircase to unearth a moody and strangely seductive dining alcove most passersby up above on Bourke Street would be surprised even exists. 

Yet here’s a space that’s lived many lives before Dolly – as a hotel, theatre, cinema and music venue. It’s only fitting that the restaurant, named after the dolly zoom camera technique pioneered during Alfred Hitchcock’s classic psychological thriller Vertigo, pays reverence to its history as an entertainment playground for revellers and performers alike.

The immediate attraction is the bar, a striking centrepiece wrapped in fluted chrome and a polished marble countertop, where impeccably dressed staff sling cocktails inspired by artists such as Aussie soprano Florence Austral, Prince Rogers Nelson (or the artist formerly known as Prince), and his lover and muse, Denise 'Vanity'. Co-collaborators the Everleigh Bottling Co have lent their exacting standards to the drinks, creating a well-balanced base for Dolly’s dramatic flair and pretty floral garnishes. 

Though Dolly welcomes casual after-work drinks, the plush 90-seat dining area with its soft mulberry banquette seating invites a longer stay for dinner. Unsurprisingly, the food here is a cinematic affair with stark plating and a penchant for old-world high-society classics. Think freshly shucked oysters with Champagne sorbet, a golden, buttery beef Wellington that reveals O’Connor’s grass-fed eye fillet pink as a peony when you cut into it, and a snow-white Bombe Alaska filled with salted caramel popcorn ice cream – theatrically torched at the table, of course.

While the menu may have its nostalgic moments, executive chef Christian Graebner isn’t afraid to play around with tradition. Having grown up in a small epicurean town in northern Bavaria, his passion for wild, hyper-seasonal ingredients lends his dishes an unexpected edge. Yarra Valley venison loin tartare takes on a native guise with Davidson plum, spiced macadamia cream and saltbrush. Locally caught King George Whiting en papillote is infused with Portarlington mussel broth and arrives cushioned against saffron-braised fennel with rainbow trout caviar pearls. And the extensive wine list shines the spotlight on Melbourne’s  ‘dress circle’ of vineyards surrounding the city, an intimately local touch.

Try a Dal Zotto pinot grigio from King Valley or a chardonnay from Yarra Valley’s Punt Road Napoleone Vineyard, though, in such a luxuriant setting, you may well be tempted to go for a bottle of premium Champagne instead.

In the heart of Melbourne’s theatre district, Dolly is perfect for a prix fixe pre-show menu at $120 for two people, or special occasions and date nights. Make a booking at the website.

Know your Martinis from your Margaritas? Sip your way through Melbourne's best cocktail bars. And for more ideas on where to eat before a show, here are our fave pre-theatre dining experiences.

Lauren Dinse
Written by
Lauren Dinse


20 Bourke Street
Opening hours:
Tues-Sat 5pm-late
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