The St Kilda site that was once home to the St Moritz ice skating rink now hosts a soaring apartment complex of the same name, anchored by newly opened Loti, a restaurant and bar helmed by ex-Lume chef Elijah Holland.
An acronym for “lady of the ice”, Loti is a relatively intimate space with a central bar separating a more casual drinking and snacking zone from an all-day dining room looking into a fire-fuelled open kitchen. By day, there are views over the Esplanade to Port Phillip Bay; at night, there’s a hideaway feel.
An extensive menu makes it easy to settle in for a feast or to snack and move on, perhaps to the nearby Palais Theatre or Esplanade Hotel for a show.
Key dishes include a cornetto of smoked yellowfin tuna mousse with Spanish-style cured and dried albacore tuna.
A spin on lamb cevapcici sausage is seasoned with mountain pepper; it’s served with a fermented green pepper and saltbush relish.
Turbot ribs are frenched like a lamb rack and the fish skin crusted with sea parsley. “It’s crisp and clean, seafood for winter,” says the chef.
Holland is a keen hunter and forager and the menu showcases native ingredients as well as invasive animals such as venison, and plants such as cardoon, an artichoke thistle.
“We’ve been out foraging and diving and fishing with the team,” he says. “We are trying to get to know and understand our produce as much as we can.”
There’s theatre, too. The “ice rink” seafood ceviche will be presented with a smashable sheet of ice.
A tea-tree-scented marshmallow dessert will be toasted at the table, recalling childhood campfires on the beach.
“It’s simple and approachable but done in a fun way,” says Holland. “We want it to be interesting but not daunting.”
Owner Cam Northway has Rocker in Bondi but this is his first Melbourne foray. “Our vision was to create a local neighbourhood escape, to experience and conjure up memories of your favourite trips away, right here in Melbourne.”
He’s excited about the cocktail program: classics made with native herbs and local spirits.The Milton Spritz is an example, made with mountain marigold, gin, dry vermouth and gentian bitters.
Open daily, noon-late from June 22.
14-16 The Esplanade, St Kilda, 03 4709 0800, lotistkilda.com.au