For his first restaurant in the south, Andrew McConnell looks east
Go east, young man. Chef Andrew McConnell, among our city’s finest restaurateurs, has already given us the European-focused Cumulus Inc, and then blown us away with Cutler & Co, with its global modernity underpinned by French sensibilities. But now he’s made a complete about face, turning toward the Orient for his newest eatery and bar, Golden Fields, in St Kilda.
Here, Melbourne-born McConnell draws inspiration from favourite Asian eats experienced during his time cooking overseas in Shanghai and Hong Kong, from street food to home cooking and fine dining. He also incorporates an understated approach to fine, interesting produce, revealing an admiration for Japanese cooking and presentation.
Prepare to share. Select small plates like rustic pork dumplings with Shanghai chilli vinegar, raw dishes like duckfish with avocado, horseradish and dried sea lettuce, some Moonlight Flat oysters or salads like a shredded cabbage with Moreton Bay bug. Mains are equally inspired, from line-caught snapper steamed with picked wasabi leaf and clams to a roasted lamb shoulder with cumin seeds and salted lemon.
There are no reservations for small groups, so the waiting game is best played out with a tasty snack, wine or sake at the bar. Larger groups of eight or more can save seats, however, and choose from either of two set banquets, an omakase-like chef’s choice of shared dishes and individual desserts – think peanut butter parfait with salted caramel or green tea ice-cream with pumpkin and licorice. For parties of 10-plus there’s ‘The Beast’: a five-course dinner staring a whole suckling pig (hence the title). A pre-ordered wine magnum is an advised accompaniment.
Melbourne architects Projects of Imagination – the same folks behind Adam Wilkinson’s miniature Small World Café on Russell St – have orchestrated a fresh, modern dining area with polished concrete floors. The front is all floor-to-ceiling glass and paneled windows, while white marble lines the bar fronting the room-long open kitchen. Black bentwood chairs alternate with petite blonde stools at linen-free tables.
As of tomorrow, lunch service is being added to the already buzzing dinner trade. Early birds will soon have reason to rejoice as well – a breakfast menu is slated to arrive in June, running Friday to Sunday mornings and a fitting move for a place that’s taking plenty of inspiration from the Rising Sun.
Where: 157 Fitzroy St, St Kilda
Hours: Tues-Sun noon-midnight (Brekkie 8-11.30, Sat & Sun)
Phone: (03) 9525 4488