The chef that got not one but two Australian cities hooked on Nashville-style fried chicken is set to open a new Melbourne restaurant in February that's inspired by - wait for it - museums. Set on the ground floor of a refurbished 1940s tower on the west end of Collins Street, the 350-seat Natural History Bar & Grill will take design cues from taxidermy and science while channelling the glamour of New York's mid-century steakhouses.
"Predominantly it will be like a Peter Luger or Smith & Wollensky,"says Morgan McGlone.
Melbourne diners can expect steak tartare with fried oysters, grilled Barnsley chops sourced locally by Vic's Meats and a baked New York-style cheesecake as well as, of course, steak. McGlone plans to offer at least five cuts at any one time - whether that's beef from O'Connor, Rangers Valley or Blackmore - while the bar menu will include a cheeseburger and, yes, fried chicken, although not the fiery stuff sold at Belles. But McGlone's time south of the Mason-Dixon, doing stints at Husk in both Nashville and Charleston, still shines through in dishes such as peach cobbler and a riff on Hoppin' John, the Southern dish of rice and legumes.
A street-front café, Natural History Café, will keep things loose, offering Lune croissants, porchetta rolls and mid-morning Fernet Brancas (it's licensed from seven, day-drinkers), and charcuterie from Meatsmith and Vic's Meats for sundown.
With a wine list that favours new-wave bottles, as well as a 15-metre taxidermy-filled diorama covering one wall of the grand space, Natural History isn't textbook. Instead, says McGlone, it'll bring an updated version of glam to the next generation of diners. And who doesn't love a big night out?
Natural History Bar & Grill, 401 Collins St, Melbourne, Vic, naturalhistorybarandgrill.com; Mon-Sat 7am-late