Melbourne’s food and drink scene has become increasingly more competitive, making it harder than an everlasting gobstopper for venues to make their mark on the city’s foodie map. When it comes to cocktails and mouth-watering food, we’re always wanting it to be bigger, better, tastier, more extravagant, super-convenient, and served in a palatial venue that’s also a secret to most of our city-loving friends. And with Dutchess, (the Flinders Street bar-restaurant that’s recently been revamped by an award-winning ex-Royal Mail Hotel chef) we’ve found all that and more.
Dutchess’ recent menu revamp has been spearheaded by Dylan Kemp, part of the team behind the success of Dunkeld’s chef’s hatted restaurant. Staying true to form, Kemp has created a show-stopping new menu that focuses on incredible local produce, creative presentation (one dish arrives in a teardrop ice palace…but more on that later) and ingenious flavour pairings. It’s also the only restaurant in Australia where you’ll find Cape Grim steak that’s aged on the bone, on site, for no less than 35 days, AND the kitchen is open until 3am. Need we say more?
If you haven’t discovered Dutchess, we wouldn’t blame you. Situated on the corner of Flinders and Russell Streets in the building occupied by The Duke (fun fact: it’s the oldest licenced pub in Melbourne), the restaurant is situated on the second floor of the historic building and incorporates a street-side balcony that’s perfect for people watching. Either climb up a couple of flights of stairs lit by pink neon lighting, or take a short lift journey—hey, we were in heels—and get ready for a pre-dinner cocktail.
Upon arriving at the softly lit bar and dining room, complete with DJ booth, luxe upholstered booths, and contemporary art hanging from the ceiling, you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into a different world, leaving the CBD throngs at the door. Dutchess might be in an all too convenient central location, but you certainly won’t realise you’re a few stories from weekend footy fans and Fed Square tourist buses once you’re sat at one of their sumptuous tables.
As for the menu, for the first time in a good few months of food adventuring, we’ve literally no.clue.where to start. The steak here is second to none—think melt-in-your-mouth morsels that you’ll be dreaming wistfully about for weeks to come—largely thanks to the Dutchess kitchen’s commitment to sourcing the best meat in the country, and cooking it to perfection. Next up, you’ll find an entire raw seafood and beef menu that’s devoted to dressing nature’s delicacies in ingredients that include olive crumb, sea urchin hollandaise, black garlic and native finger limes. BRB, just wiping the drool off our keyboards…
When it comes to sweets, again, epic flavours served in new ways are king. Palate cleansing citrus sorbets come served in a giant ice teardrop, which simply has to be seen to be believed. However our absolute pick has to be the lemon meringue, which comes with two different types of meringue—soft, squishy, toasted rosettes, and crunchy bites—to keep both sweet-toothed styles satisfied.
The other factor that makes this CBD venue our top pick for a cracking night out is the service. Sure, we’ve sipped drinks in the city’s top bars and snacked on delicacies at twice hatted restaurants, but what really transforms a tasty menu and decadent interior into a truly memorable experience is the service. Whether it’s a pre-dinner cocktail recommendation, a wine pairing (did we mention that the sommelier is a Nobu alumni?), or a second serving of that meringue masterpiece, you’ll be treated to top-notch service from lunch through until that 3am late-late closing time.
Stuck for a birthday booking, or looking for a long lunch location that’s got some class? Give the team at Dutchess a call to make sure there’s a booth with your name on it. Oh, and save us a forkful of that dry aged loin cut, won’t you?
Dutchess serves lunch on Thursdays & Friday, and dinner Tuesday through to Saturday.
To book a table, book online or call 03 9810 0055.
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Image credit: Michelle Jarni for The Urban List