A retro-styled bistro in a 110-year-old building is the latest restaurant from Melbourne Demons’ captain Max Gawn and his business partners. Motor opened in a former car garage in Hawthorn on October 11 with a raft of French-leaning wood-fired dishes, a 60-seat bar with its own menu, and a striking entrance.

Three brick arches greet diners before they step into a black-and-white tiled space with Tasmanian oak panelling, booths of burgundy leather and artwork that nods to the building’s history.

Motor is a former garage, hence the name.

Motor is a former garage, hence the name. Photo: Supplied

Craig Tate and Rich Donovan, two of Motor’s owners, saw the site when they went for neighbourhood walks during lockdown and got dreaming about opening a venue there. The pair opened East End wine bar with Gawn in a former auction house nearby in 2019. Matt Jones has jumped on board for this venture.

Tate says, compared to East End, Motor is more of an occasion restaurant.


The half roast chicken at Motor.

The half roast chicken at Motor. Photo: Supplied

Half-chicken is roasted in the wood-fired oven and served with sauce chasseur, pipis are paired with grilled Romano beans, and prune and armagnac team up between layers of pastry in a millefeuille. On the bar menu are snapper rillettes with broad beans, and burrata with roasted oyster mushrooms.

A large U-shaped bar divides the 120-seat dining room and bar area.

The large U-shaped bar at Motor.

The large U-shaped bar at Motor. Photo: Supplied

Old and new world wines have equal billing on the wine list, with glasses ranging from $15 from Yarra Valley producer Timo Mayer up to $50 for Stella di Campalto from Tuscany.

Open from October 11, Tues-Wed 4pm-late, Thurs-Sat noon-late

735 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn, motor.wine