The most anticipated restaurant opening of 2020 is finally happening on July 22, and after a long wait, bookings for Melbourne’s lavish Society open today. The Chris Lucas, Martin Benn and Vicki Wild collaboration was first mooted four years ago and will be the flagship restaurant at the 80 Collins development in Melbourne’s CBD.

“We are ready to go,” says chef Martin Benn, who was lured from Sydney with partner Vicki Wild. An a la carte menu of 38 dishes is designed for flexibility. “We want you to come back as often as possible,” says Benn. “Come in one day and let me do you five courses, come another time and have oysters and a steak. We want to empower the guest. After all we’ve been through in Melbourne, it’s time to have some fun.”

Key dishes include bonito marinated with housemade yuzu kosho (a spicy condiment made with the yuzu fruit and chilli), topped with jewels of chicken jelly. Wagyu rib cap is slow-cooked, seared and glazed then topped with mushrooms and branches made from dehydrated mushroom stock. Entrees start in the mid-$30s, mains in the mid-$40s.

Bonito marinated with housemade yuzu kosho (a spicy condiment made with yuzu fruit and chilli), topped with jewels of ...
Bonito marinated with housemade yuzu kosho (a spicy condiment made with yuzu fruit and chilli), topped with jewels of chicken jelly. Photo: Adrian Lander

Benn can’t wait to cook for Melbourne customers. “I’m nervous, anxious, excited, tired, energetic – every emotion I could possibly feel,” he says. “I just want to get it open.”

The more casual Lillian Terrace, part of the three level dining mecca, opens slightly later, on August 5, This restaurant harks back to Martin’s British roots and his earlier European cooking style, with dishes such as soy-glazed roast duck Leg with grilled cucumber and apple or roasted crown of chicken with tomato, chilli and charred lime.

The wine list is curated by Loic Avril (ex Fat Duck and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal) and there will be a special “Coravin” list (a special method of opening wine so oxygen does not spoil it over the long term) of over 40 vintages that allows diners to enjoy matches of some of the world’s finest wines by the glass.

“It all captures the energy of this great city, celebrating one of the country’s most significant chefs and the many talented Melburnians that have come together and created SOCIETY,” Chris Lucas says.

Society Dining Room and Society Lounge will open daily 5.30pm-late from July 22.

Reservations (not necessary for the Lounge).

80 Collins Street, Melbourne.