Former Attica assistant manager Michael Bascetta and chef Vicky Symington loved their fine dining gig in arguably one of Melbourne’s best restaurants, but there was one element missing for the pair: they wanted to connect with the locals, one-on-one.
That’s set to change when the Balaclava residents open Lot 3, an American-style eatery that will take over the former train master’s house at Ripponlea Station, a short stroll from their old work. They’re testing the waters with a pop-up in nearby Spout cafe every Friday and Saturday night this month before throwing open the doors in June.
“I wanted Lot 3 to be a neighbourhood restaurant,” Bascetta says. “Vicky and I want to see the same people week-in, week-out and really look after them. Even doing the pop-up, we got to meet so many people who live just round the corner. I met more people in two days at Spout than I have in three years at Attica.”
Bascetta became firm friends with Spout owner Johnno Dvash after hanging out there so regularly. He’s made a fair few good mates on the strip during his time at Attica, and that partly influenced the decision to skip the morning trade and open 11am-9pm instead when Lot 3 kicks in. Location is also a big deal. The station house is on the side where commuters disembark after coming home from the city.
“If we all help each other out, we can make Ripponlea so much better than it is now,” Bascetta says, pointing out that form 5pm onwards, once the cafes shut, there’s not much choice dinner-wise unless you go super-fancy.
Alec Baumer, originally from Seattle, will handle Lot 3’s kitchen, and the food definitely ain’t fancy, with a decidedly American home comfort feel. “We wanted to steer clear of a traditional beef burger, just because everyone’s opening a burger place,” Bascetta reveals. “That’s probably the only thing we’re not going to have.”
Hot dogs will be a big feature, sourced from Gary’s Quality Meats in Prahran market, and a daily lunch bagel using cured meats from the strip’s Bukuria Continental Butchers. He’ll also do a chicken fried steak, which has no actual chook, but coats the steak in a similar manner. There’s a fried chicken sanger and sides include mac and cheese, slaw, house-made fries as well as onion rings. Baumer’s wife Ashleigh is a pastry chef and she will dish up the desserts.
While the Spout pop-up will be offering sour beers and pear cider by Tasmanian outfit Two Metre Tall, alas Lot 3 will not be licensed, as it’s technically part of the railway station grounds. Have no fear, there will still be yum beverages to wash down all that hearty food with.
Bascetta handled the cocktail list at Attica, including the non-alcoholic options, and Lot 3 will specialise in house-made sodas, with standard-issue lemonade and ginger beer as well as rotating specials—he’s been known to whip up a mighty sour rhubarb soda in the past. “We’ll also be doing one milkshake really well, so the first one will be caramel popcorn,” he adds.
With morning trade off the cards, Bascetta has also opted to ditch the espresso machine, instead installing a Moccamaster that will brew up single origin batch brews with beans provided by Proud Mary. Lot 3 customers will be able to dive into a bottomless cup.
Lot 3 will open in June
3 Glen Eira Road | Ripponlea