Pontoon is a glamour model masquerading as a breezy beach shack. The fit-out by George Livissianis, whose stamp is on the trendy Sydney joints Apollo and the Dolphin Hotel, hits a Scandi nautical-but-nice vibe with consummate ease. Thick rope is twined around pillars on the deck, eyeballing the beach just metres away, while inside it’s all textured surfaces, from herringbone concrete tiles on the floor to a honeycomb of rattan suspended above a long central bar.
Seating options? Tale your pick from skinny clusters of tall tables – perfect for posing around in best Mad Men guise –along with picnic tables and low banquettes.
It’s a party place (ably transmitted by its Instagram tagline “40 speakers. DJs. Outdoor deck”), and the prism is also a good way to understand the menu, which is strictly Mediterranean with a focus on share plates. You'll find heaps of cured meats, pickles and seafood as well as wood-fired offerings and hand-made pasta.
With all the salt floating around the place – and we’re not just talking about Port Phillip Bay – you’ll be needing a drink. There are enough taps to satisfy the beer nerds, while the wine list makes a virtue of local heroes without neglecting the Old World (and jugs of Pimms are a note-perfect addition to the cocktails list). You’ll need to remember your table number when you go up to order everything at the bar. It’s a time-consuming process on a quiet Wednesday lunchtime, so clearly it’s something that will need to be ironed out before the crowds reach critical mass over summer. But that’s summer in St Kilda.