The Event: An Evening with Mason & Grace
There are two driving hospitality theories in Melbourne, opposing camps in to which most venues can be categorised. First up are the single-door-stalwarts: think Ronnie Di Stasio and, a newcomer to that theory following the sale of St Ali North, Salvatore Malatesta.
Second? The multi-door-believers. Those that channel the energetic feed of two, three or even four venue stables. The Lucas Group (Chin Chin, Baby Pizza, Kong BBQ) and The European Group (The European et al) may be at the forefront of this pack, but the Publican Group is pulling up as some stiff competition.
Relative newcomers to the Melbourne scene, the group launched Mr Mason in 2012, backing it up late last year with State of Grace and its hidden cellar bar, Fall from Grace.
For any Executive Chef, that’s a decent load to carry, as the Publican Group’s Telina Menzies, explained to Makers last night at a progressive dinner held between the three city centre venues.
Telina: “You just have to make sure that you trust the people that are running your kitchens. If you’ve got the right staff it’s the easiest job in the world, if you don’t, it’s the worst.”
The group appears to be on the right track: after mains of barramundi in saffron bisque and pork belly at Mr Mason, the 27 year old head chef Thiago Miranda was shyly presented to the table to field questions on his near faultless French-inspired menu.
After mains at Mr Mason , a short evening stroll down Collins Street led to State of Grace for a dessert of pumpkin & hazelnut financier topped with cinnamon sherbet, where the highly considered mismatched décor features a giant giraffe mounted to the wall beside gilt-framed mirrors and op-shop tchotchkes above ornate Louis the XIV-style furnishings. The final touch? A ‘secret’ hidden bar – Fall from Grace – accessed via a bookshelf a la Maxwell Smart
If Telina has any concerns, it is more for the long-term health of the industry as she laments the willingness of current trainees to put in the three-years required in order to gain full qualifications. For now, however, the Publican Group’s Melbourne-based venues look to be in great shape.