It may be a small bite out of the CBD but Victoria by Farmer’s Daughters, which opens in Federation Square on July 28, is swallowing the state whole. The new farm-to-table restaurant from chef and Farmer’s Daughters co-founder Alejandro Saravia expands on his other CBD venue’s Gippsland focus, drawing produce from all 12 regions.
“We’re like an embassy for Victoria in Melbourne,” says the Peruvian-born chef while giving Good Food the first tour.
The 200-seat venue, which overlooks the Yarra River, pitches itself between casual and formal dining. Modern design and earthy, rustic elements blend sympathetically: light and dark timbers, wire-mesh pendant lights, verdant carpets and dirt-coloured floors.
“We’re creating a unique image of how Victoria originally looked,” says Saravia.
Six discrete dining and drinking spaces occupy a single level. On entering, guests see a 20-seat gallery dining room, which showcases commissioned art, projections and a relief map of Victoria.
Beyond is a spacious open kitchen with custom grill mimicking elements of a campfire, a chef’s table for eight and a 4.5-metre ingredients table, fashioned from a single piece of eucalypt, displaying the produce used on the menu.
A terrace and balcony bar, with a separate snack menu, offer views of the river and arts precinct, and a wine library holding 3000 bottles of exclusively Victorian wine is a first, according to the team.
Menus, under the direction of Saravia and Farmer’s Daughters head chef David Boyle, will transport diners the length and breadth of the state. Dinner may start with a Portarlington mussel eclair, oyster mushrooms from Ballarat or Lakes Entrance calamari, continue with Pyrenees lamb, Mount Macedon duck or Noojee salmon, and end with a cheese board.
Victoria will also run three-month residencies championing each region in turn, kicking off in September with Ballarat and the Pyrenees, during which guest chefs, winemakers and producers host events and feature on the tasting menu.
“We’re not trying to redefine Australian cuisine,” says Saravia. “We’re bringing the nostalgia and provenance of Victorian produce.”
Open Thu-Sat 5pm-late, Sun 11.30am-5pm from July 28.
Yarra Building, Federation Square, Melbourne, 03 9121 0505, victoriarestaurant.com.au