It’s fair to say that the plan to turn Melbourne’s Docklands into a thriving centre for gastronomy and urban culture kind of, well, fizzled. It’s a brave Melburnian who announces to their mates, ‘Good news guys, we’re heading to Docklands!’. But just like Southbank—another location that’s unfairly written off—there’s a bit more to Docklands than shoebox apartments and a giant Ferris Wheel that melted shortly after installation.
Exhibit A: The Wool Shed.
You’ve probably seen this place over the years, twinkling out on the harbour like the one bright light in a very dark galaxy. Last year a fire sadly gutted a lot of the venue, and it’s undergone five months of extensive renovations, reopening its doors in April 2017. And the transformation is pretty stunning. You enter through the big open sports bar, a low-lit, polished concrete cathedral, crammed with patrons drinking schooners and cheering the big screens. The restaurant is tucked around the corner, a secluded little spot with a quieter vibe. There’s also a massive event space (with water views) if you’re shopping for a private venue.
Food-wise, this place bats above the average. It’s no bad thing to say that it doesn’t FEEL like a Docklands dining experience. The steaks come from Gippsland and Cape Grim, and are dry-aged on site. The menu is slick and contemporary, but not pretentious. Think flounder with chilli and green papaya salad, goats cheese ravioli, radicchio, parmesan and black truffle, or a good ol’ parma, loaded with mozzarella, provolone and pancetta. The wait staff are lovely, and the cellar surprisingly well-stocked (the whisky list, in particular, runs to two pages).
If this place was on Collins St, we’d probably hear about it all the time. Chalk it up to anti-Docklands bias.
Image credit: Jenna Fahey-White