MELBOURNE | One of my go-to restaurants in Sydney is NOMAD. Executive chef Jaquiline Chalinor’s food highlights the quality of local, seasonal produce, with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavours.
The Sydney restaurant caught fire in 2019, and didn’t reopen properly (it popped up down the road) until early 2020, just in time for COVID-19. The pandemic also put plans for the June 2020 opening of NOMAD Melbourne on ice. Now it’s here, and it was definitely worth the wait.
The restaurant occupies the space that was home to famed Melbourne restaurant, Ezard. It’s a different vibe to the Sydney restaurant – a moody, narrow, low lit basement versus a light-filled converted warehouse. Like Sydney, the kitchen, with head chef Brendan Katich (ex Ezard, Gingerboy) at the helm, is a focal point.
You’ll find several favourites from the Sydney menu here, but it’s not a carbon copy. There are new dishes exclusive to Melbourne, and a focus on what Victoria’s growers and producers have to offer. You’ll also find new twists on favourites from past NOMAD menus. Cooking over open flames is a big part of what’s done here, with epic locally built charcoal and wood grills put to good use.
The famed burrata with fennel jam is divine. Paired with the housed baked wood-fired flatbread with Persian lime and wattleseed za’atar, it’s one of the best things you’ll eat in Melbourne all year. This theme of familiar flavours presented in a way that’s new and exciting permeates the menu. Smoked mussels with piment d’espelette, toum, and a hash brown is fantastic. Wood roasted mushrooms, with shiitake XO, and spelt, another must order dish.
For dessert, the olive oil ice-cream sandwich with halva, pistachio, and honey is a must. It confuses the taste buds, in the most delicious, wonderful way.
For drinks, group beverage director, Ged Bellis, has created a wine list that’s all about local, small growers and producers. The cocktail list is great too, with names that evoke Chumbawumba’s Tubthumping. Try ‘The Vodka Drink’ to start your meal, and pair dessert with ‘The Rum Drink’.
Basement, 187 Flinders Lane
Tue – Thu: 5:00pm to 9:00pm
Fri – Sat: 12:00pm to 2:00pm; 5:00pm to 9:00pm
Sun: 12:00pm to 3:00pm