Guidebook Matilda is rich from beginning to end

Best eating in town

Matilda is rich from beginning to end

The fit-out at Matilda is “so luxe you can almost smell the expense,” writes Larissa Dubecki at Time Out. “There’s a fire and charcoal-driven kitchen, a botanical-filled glass cabinets and a dining room of rough-edged wooden-topped tables and the fattest, softest leather banquettes that elicit a gasp of surprise from more than one diner.” Located opposite Melbourne’s vast green Botanic Gardens, Matilda’s is “Australian at heart,” notes The Urban List. Its cooking method includes no gas but, instead, “big hunks of Ironbark, Cherry, Apple wood and even Pinot grapevines to smoke the hell out of pretty much everything.” This approach supports a menu “built around meaty mains like whole John Dory topped with finger limes, saltbush and native grenobloise, ‘Salt & pepper’ Blackmore Wagyu bavette, and fired-up Macedon duck, with leatherwood honey and figs. Kangaroo tartare with fermented red peppers is so smooth you’d like it was A-Grade Tasmanian beef.”

Chef Scott Pickett has “never, ever been afraid of bringing the outrageously rich,” says Gemima Cody in Good Food. “So you can get your oysters natural, but perhaps you'd like to try them poached in shell thanks to a smoked bone marrow crust? It's a hot, rich, saline hit as off kilter and divisive as Dan Hunter's oyster ice-cream.” “Smoke and char flavour everything from beets cooked in coal and roo tartare drizzled with charcoal oil,”writes Emma Breheny at Gourmet Traveller. “Elsewhere on the dessert menu, a blackened edge on paper-thin slices of pineapple betrays time spent on the rôtisserie.” The Matilda “must-order” is a “happy mix of picked spanner crab, fingerlime and sea succulents scooped from a crab carapace onto charry unleavened bread,” advises Dubecki. Oh, and a whole charry baby octopus “sitting pretty under a bonnet of leaves with the herbal note of bay leaf gently spiking the macadamia puree lurking beneath,” and to finish, Matilda’s pink lady apple version of tarte tatin “blessed with the trademark excess of caramelised toffee stickiness and topped by smoked yoghurt ice-cream that melts into sauce … a filthy rich end to a filthy rich meal.”

Then there’s the basement bar called Oscar’s, named after the chef’s son, which has “joined the ranks of Melbourne’s well-conceived restaurant bars,” says Michael Harden at Domain. “Reached via lift or theatrically lit stairs, Oscar’s mirrors the ’70s-channelling timber, brick and leather decor of the upstairs restaurant,” with its “wide timber bar, extremely comfortable leather-upholstered bar stools, flattering lighting and cocktail and snack lists that tap into the earthy, smoky vibe of Matilda’s kitchen, with its wood-fired grills and ovens.”

Best eating in town
  • Guidebook