MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA, 2023-Aug-27 — /Travel PR News/ — With a passion for classical European cuisine and a penchant for bush tucker, Chef Eric Kwek (of CODA and Turbine fame) has found a new roost and a sense of place at the refurbished Mr Tompkins restaurant.
Located at basement level in the historic Rendezvous Hotel Melbourne, diners enter Mr Tompkins via a grand staircase on the lobby level and descend into a moody space complete with velvet drapes and a jazzy soundtrack.
Distinctive Australian and European design features of the hotel’s iconic Grand Vestibule at the top of the venue’s staircase – think gum leaf designs in the plasterwork – helped Kwek create an instant connection between the food and the space it now calls home.
“At Mr Tompkins, we’ve introduced Australian native ingredients and techniques to classic European dishes thus creating an instant connection between the food and the space it calls home,” the Singapore-born chef said. “This approach has also allowed me to pair my love for foraging bush foods with my background in classically trained French cookery.”
The 60-seat restaurant, formerly Strait’s Café, is named after architect Harry Tompkins, who designed the former Commercial Travellers Association of Victoria (now the modern-day Rendezvous Hotel) back in 1913. These days, it’s a dapper affair offering intimate candlelit dining, one level below Flinders Street.
Restaurant starters include a classic tomato salad featuring heirloom tomatoes, sourced from Wandin Yallock farms in Yarra Valley, that are enhanced to perfection with perennial native basil; whilst Chef’s Shark Bay half shell scallops with cauliflower puree are paired with a seaweed butter sauce that’s made with local wakame (broad leave seaweed) and sea grapes caviar of salmon roe from Victoria.
Mains are priced from $32 and include Grilled Victorian pork cheeks that are basted in quandong glaze; as well as stinging nettle risotto with chargrilled broccolini, whipped goats curd and roasted spiced almonds. Chef’s Roasted Murray Cod is a real highlight when it comes to mains. Served on a bed of burning paperbark – to add a distinctly smokey flavour – it is paired with Australian natives like sorrel, macadamia nuts and crab apples.
As Chef explains, paperbark is traditionally used by Indigenous Australians as bedding and to wrap proteins in before tossing them into the fire.
Accompanying mains are sides of house-made focaccia, Dutch cream potato purée and butter lettuce, orange dressing and candied walnuts, while honey cake made with local honey, spelt coriander seed and orange rounds out the dessert menu.
Guests can choose from an impressive line-up of Australian spirits like Starward and The Gospel, curated cocktails and locally sourced wines from Montalto Estate, Mornington Peninsula and Oakridge Estate, Yarra Valley.
The new-look Mr Tompkins is open Wednesday to Saturday from 6pm.
Ms Ava joins Mr Tompkins
From early September, Rendezvous Melbourne’s Travellers Bar will transform into a new inner city watering hole, aptly called Miss Ava. In another nod to the building’s history, the bar is named after 1920s actress, Ava Gardner, who stayed and played at the hotel while filming “On The Beach” with Gregory Peck in 1959.
Embodying her grace, beauty and charm, Ms Ava will serve an elevated bistro-style menu, play tunes from Gardner’s late husband Frank Sinatra, and serve signature cocktails that pay tribute to the actress and her time at the hotel. Think ‘The Ms Ava Bramble 27’ made with Four Pillars Dry Gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup, crème de mur or the aptly named ‘On The Beach’, with coconut rum, pineapple juice, lime, and a hint of vanilla.
Ms Ava will open from Sunday – Thursday 3pm until late | Friday – Saturday 12 until late when it relaunches in early September.
MR TOMPKINS FAST FACTS:
Address: 318 Flinders Street Melbourne. Underground of Rendezvous Hotel Melbourne
Open: Wednesday — Saturday from 6:00pm to 10:00pm
Book here: www.opentable.com.au/r/mr-tompkins-melbourne
High-res images: available here
About Mr Harry Tompkins
Harry Tompkins was one of Melbourne’s best commercial architects during the first three decades of the 20th Century. He had a long relationship with the Commercial Travellers Association and also with Sidney Myer, for whom he designed the first Myer Emporium building in Melbourne. Harry Tompkins served two terms as President of the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects between 1914 and 1916, a reflection of his esteemed position in the architectural profession. A charismatic man with influence, natural dignity, and persuasive charm. Harry Tompkins had creative energy and an infectious enthusiasm. His lively sense of humour was offset by an underlying wistfulness. He was tall and elegant, with dark crinkly hair and a neat moustache. He was inordinately ambitious and a man with vision and warm human sympathies.
More about Mr Tompkins (the venue)
A meaningful new restaurant with an old soul. It’s about classic service that’s out of the ordinary and an experience quite extraordinary. Mr Tompkins doesn’t stand still. It evolves with people, ideas, and time. Guests come back, not because they know what they’ll get, but because they know Mr Tompkins won’t be resting on his laurels.
- Constructed in 1913, the original building started life as The Commercial Travellers Association Building and was designed by architect Harry Tompkins. He soon became one of Melbourne’s leading commercial architects at the time for introducing Edwardian Baroque influence from his British travels.
- Of the more than £58,000 spent on its construction, much was allocated to ensuring a lavish interior. The towering entrance hall vestibule was a magnificent feature that included the mezzanine floor above and was distinctive for its complex gum leaf designs, known as coprosma decoration, within the prevailing plasterwork. The walls were lined with oak panelling, the only non-Australian wood used in the building and the tessellated mosaic floor covered with fine Turkish carpet of exceptional size. Brown leather chairs were located within the vestibule, along with a settee designed by Harry Tompkins.
- To this day, it is one of the finest and most distinct expressions of the Edwardian Baroque style in Melbourne and the Grand Vestibule has seen many a beaming bride twirling beneath it.
- High profile people met at the CTA including Edward Prince of Wales in May 1920 (when the façade was festooned with banners and lights in his honour) and the Duke of Gloucester in October 1934.
- The building ceased functioning as the Commercial Travellers Association club in 1976 and fell into disrepair before being partially restored as the Duxton Hotel in the late 1990s. When commercial viability saw the Duxton close its doors, the Rendezvous Hospitality Group took on the project of meticulously restoring the hotel, retaining the elegant style of the early 1900s while providing guests with all the convenience of the 21st Century; what today is known as the Rendezvous Melbourne.
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Source: TFE Hotels