Dining at Tolarno Eating House & Bar is a little like dining in the middle of an art gallery. The classic St Kilda eatery just re-opened its doors, and it’s bringing major old-school vibes to Fitzroy St.
The establishment first opened in 1965 as Tolarno French Bistro, Gallery and Hotel. It was the art gallery and home of flamboyant and iconic local artist, Mirka Mora. For the next few decades, Tolarno was the place to be for trendy St Kilda residents.
Fast forward to 2017, and Tolarno has quietly re-opened its doors under new custodians and a fresh chef, but Mirka Mora’s murals are still rocking on the walls. The restaurant's got great open views of Fitzroy St (perfect for a little cheeky people watching), and the vintage lighting and tableware adds to that heritage feel. Sip on a classic cocktail while feel-good beach music plays in the background and you’ll feel like you've been time-warped back to 1960s St Kilda.
“We’re excited to bring this icon back to life and provide a ‘new local’ for the residents of St Kilda and beyond,” says one of the new owners, John Isherwood. “The new Tolarno is about providing good food, classic drinks and a home for neighbourly conversation, all under the eye of Mirka Mora’s incredible artwork.”
So let's talk food. Tolarno offers a seasonal, modern Australian menu, crafted by Head Chef Sam Parslow. The menu includes drool-worthy stuff like triple-cooked rare breed pork belly (with black pudding & pistachio crumble, fennel, orange and red vein sorrel), tangy ceviche (soaked in a zesty passionfruit and lemongrass sauce) and tender porterhouse steak served with chef'd up onion rings.
If the walls could talk, Mirka's murals would tell you not to skip on dessert. The chocolate tart with pistachio crust is one of those satisfying sweets that you can’t stop eating...even though you know you’re full. Tolarno also offers breakfast and lunch on the weekends, PLUS trivia nights at the bar on Wednesdays.
In a word? Welcoming. Tolarno's setting is classy, yet comfortable. The wine list is unbeatable. And the staff, totally accommodating. It feels good to be in something so proud of its roots. Now if we could just grab a Mirka Mora print for our lounge room...
Image credit: Tolarno