The historic Normanby Chambers building, located at 430 Little Collins Street, was constructed in 1883 for solicitor, speculator, politician and philanthropist Matthew Henry Davies. Currently a heritage-listed site, the 4-storey, medium-rise office building is an insightful example of those built in the financial and mercantile sectors of inner Melbourne at that time. One glance is sufficient to appreciate the old-world charm and detail represented by this landmark, the product of a robust economy and soaring fortunes indicative of 1880s Melbourne. It is no surprise that local restaurateur Scott Pickett has chosen Normanby Chambers as the location of his first footprint into the top end of the CBD. Appropriately named after the stretch of Little Collins Street between William and Queen streets, Chancery Lane is a European-inspired bistro offering classic dishes with a modern edge and all of the opulence and luxury of a bygone era. Simply put, Chancery Lane is enroute to becoming one of the city’s next culinary institutions.

Pickett admits, “It is an amazing opportunity to continue the legacy of Normanby Chambers that has been the home to some of Melbourne’s most iconic restaurants,” most notably Vue de monde prior to its move to Rialto Towers and, most recently, Bistro Vue. In partnership with Creative Director Stuart Neil, design studio Bergman & Co. and Raft Studios, Pickett has reimagined a beautifully curated period space. The space pays homage to a previous era, an era characterised by opulence, excess and extravagance. This is immediately apparent upon entry, the dim lighting taking you by the hand and leading you through a dreamlike menagerie of checkerboard tiles, black, steel-framed floor-to-ceiling windows, a lustrous, jade-green marble bar – including an awesome display of spirits proclaiming itself upon a backlit shelf – dark timber accents and ornate candelabras. Furthermore, the design team points out that the space is a culmination of what it describes as “bespoke fittings and finishes sourced from local artisans and antique dealers”. The result of this culmination is twofold: first, it celebrates the space with a unique, handmade touch; second, support for the local community has been exercised and achieved. And with this, the stage has been set. By now, you are acclimated, settled and relaxed. Prepare yourself for the next instalment, the culinary magic created by Head Chef Rob Kabboord.

Visit Chancery Lane

Visit Chancery Lane

Dine at Chancery Lane

Dine at Chancery Lane

Book Chancery Lane

Book Chancery Lane

According to Pickett and Kabboord, the Chancery Lane menu is driven by “a time-honoured approach to modern techniques”. In line with the restaurant’s celebratory ethos, the menu is both generous and approachable and is built upon a strictly European foundation. Where to start? The caviar menu seems like a logical place – yes, a caviar menu. Served with buckwheat blini and the classic condiments, either by the gram or by the tin, guests have a choice of four. Transitioning to the more robust fruit de mer, try the Cooper Island single-origin oysters, the Port Lincoln blue swimmer crab or the Mooloolaba prawns with gin Marie Rose. Next is a selection of charcuterie, including Sher Wagyu bresaola and Great Ocean Road duck, followed by an array of snacks that will certainly keep you on your toes – think lamb brains almondine and a black truffle-and-foie gras toastie. An entrée in the form of a Dreaming Goat’s curd and beetroot tart may appear, making way for a main of possibly blanquette de veau, a French veal ragout, or the Gnocchi Parisienne served with Victorian mushroom and leek. Interestingly, this French-style gnocchi – unlike traditional potato gnocchi – is made with choux pastry, a delicate pastry dough made with butter, water, flour and eggs. There are grilled meat options available, as well, for one or for two. Breathe. IF, and only if, you are still capable of moving, the Pedro Ximénez , sultana and chocolate tart could be the ideal European conclusion to the ideal European meal.

Of course, Beverage Manager Clint Fox and Head Sommelier Hannah Day will ensure that a top drop accompanies each and every step of your culinary journey. For example, if back-vintage Grand Cru Burgundy is your kryptonite, rest assured you are in safe hands. In the end, however, the question begs – of all the temptations so boldly on offer at Chancery Lane, what will you choose? Quite possibly, the what is not nearly as important as the how. Remember, “the only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.”  

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