There is absolutely nothing subtle about Natural History. And we mean that in the best way possible. Chef Morgan McGlone (Belles Hot Chicken) has swung for the freaking fences with this venue, and it’s already looking like the best new opening of 2018 (early days, but we’re calling it).
Drawing inspiration from museums all over the world, Natural History is split into two spaces: one South American-style diner and one street-front cafe. 350 seats all up. But it’s the décor that’s gonna get tongues wagging.
You know those old-school museum displays behind glass? Like a saber-tooth tiger stalking the tundra, or two Neanderthals struggling with a box of matches (we didn’t pay much attention in school), well artist Vanja Zaric has built a 15-metre version—still life dioramas of deer and birds and mountains and jungles (ethically sourced from local taxidermy specialists), framing a series of leather booths, green glass and a red-chequered marmoleum floor that no other venue ON EARTH would ever attempt. For that we can thank Michael Delany and Jaime Worth (the geniuses behind Melbourne stalwarts like Honkytonks, Sorry Grandma and The Bottom End).
Natural History will change gears throughout the day. In the morning you can expect a bustling NYC-style Porchetta cafe. By night there’s going to be Southern grill classics like beef tartare with smoked oysters, pork chops with roasted onions and beer mustard, free-range roast chooks and a rotating sandwich menu (think Reubens, baloney and McRib sangers that make your heart go clang). Vegans and veggos, don’t worry, there are a few options for you too.
For pudding? Can’t go past the Peach Charlotte—vanilla poundcake with peaches and caramel. Told you: there’s nothing subtle about this place.
“We want to pay homage to all the great steakhouses of America,” says McGlone, “Keens, Hillstone, Peter Luger. What Neil Perry achieved at Rockpool is what I consider the benchmark for steak in Australia. We hope that people will enjoy what we’re doing at Natural History as much.”
Don’t forget the drinks. McGlone has roped in Somm. Gavin Wraith (cool name) to build a vino list with a strong focus on natural wines, small Aussie growers and old-school classics.
Overall, this place is next level impressive. Next time you’ve got an out-of-towner coming to visit, take them here. They’ll be moving to Melbourne within three weeks.
Image credit: Natural History