A 4-year run-up to any restaurant opening is certain to garner a significant amount of attention, particularly when that restaurant is opening under the aegis of local legendary restaurateur Chris Lucas. Lucas’ latest venture, the realisation of a shared vision with award-winning chef Martin Benn and partner Vicki Wild – both of former Sydney triple-hatted restaurant Sepia fame, celebrates the magic of à la carte dining. It is a multi-faceted avant-garde dining destination like none the city has ever seen. Located in the heart of the fashionable Collins Street precinct, Society boldly proclaims itself as a “dynamic restaurant with local sensibilities and international confidence”. Surprisingly, despite the impeccability of both the quality and presentation of the food on offer, Society does not intend to be a “temple of gastronomy”, according to Benn. Rather, the trio wishes to create an atmosphere of utilitarianism, one in which diners are free to come and go as they please and one that is primarily characterised by excitement and a high-energy buzz.

The fit-out has been envisaged by Melbourne design firm Russell & George and can be generally described as “a contemporary reimagining of mid century”. Boasting a 180-degree outlook over Collins and Exhibition streets, the space is divided into distinct, yet wholesome, areas: the grand dining room, Lillian Terrace brasserie, sweeping open terraces, three private dining rooms and the signature lounge bar. A closer look beckons.

The Society Dining Room is an unabashed statement of modern Australian design and oozes the detail and thoughtfulness of sophisticated dining culture. It is not, however, rigid and uptight. Rather, the dining room is imbued with a relaxed supper-club feel, made all the more so with voluptuous booth seating and a palette of grey, black and navy tones that merges seamlessly with dark timber and velvet furnishings. Guests are watched over from above by a ceiling alight with hand-cut crystal installations and are invited to enjoy and appreciate one of the city’s most spectacular urban settings compliments of the room’s soaring windows. The restaurant’s formidable 10,000-bottle-strong wine cellar is also located here, comprising one of the most extensive and important lists country wide. These wines serve as the official support network for Benn’s delicate and visually stunning food which, again, is delivered via an à la carte operation. It is this “art of à la carte” that enables diners to curate their own, very personal experience and ensures “no two visits need ever be the same”.

If a greater degree of casualness is what you seek, the Lillian Terrace brasserie will undoubtedly hit the spot. Offering European-inspired contemporary fare, Lillian Terrace is a vibrant and elegant bar and restaurant. It is named after legendary Collins Street denizen Lillian Wightman and overlooks the site of her former couture salon, Le Louvre. Soft timber walls, ash-coloured fringed lamps and tan leather curvy banquettes create an atmosphere that is simultaneously naturally warm and effortlessly charming. The menu, not surprisingly, is an ever-changing à la carte experience and includes inspired European classics such as oysters, fresh salads, handmade pastas and, of course, a charcoal-grilled Chateaubriand with truffle sauce. An ever-evolving by-the-slice tart selection is also available. As with all genuine brasseries, champagne flows at all times – “And why not?!” as Lillian so often asked.

Finally, make your way to The Lounge Bar at Society before, during and/or after dinner service. Yet another elegant and luxurious setting welcomes you, boasting sparkling mirrors, inviting sofas and a swirling marble bar. There is even a stunning hand-carved edifice which sits proudly at the bar’s entrance. Here you will find cocktails at their finest in the centre of Society, literally. These bespoke martini-centric cocktails will transport their imbibers to another time, a time that captures the mid-century glamour of a big-city bar. Preferring parity over ostentation, the concise list includes familiar classics with a very simple aesthetic that reflect Society’s commitment to timelessness and utilises the finest spirits, fruits, tonics and bitters. The Lounge Bar provides guests with a haven of elegance and style and the opportunity to celebrate and enjoy the mixologists’ skills.

Experience the magic of Melbourne’s latest and greatest dining destination, as Society returns from Friday, November 5. Reservations are now open, dine at Lillian Terrace and Society Dining Room. Society is located at 80 Collins Street.

Society, Melbourne

VISIT SOCIETY

Society, Melbourne

DINE AT SOCIETY

Society, Melbourne

BOOK SOCIETY
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