Dutchess Restaurant & Bar - CBD (Melbourne)

Perched atop the crown of Melbourne’s oldest pub, The Duke of Wellington, is a glamorous Manhattan-inspired dining lounge by the name of Dutchess. Despite its location across the road from Federation Square, the restaurant feels miles away from downtown Melbourne, evoking the signature vogue style of nightlife in New York City.

The venue is spacious, sophisticated and polished, with casual beats helping to induce a relaxed but trendy atmosphere. An extensive bar provides stools to guests looking for an informal cocktail or a glass of wine after work, while the main dining room is located on an open mezzanine featuring polished wooden floorboards and plush leather booths. The ambiance is chic with large vases of native flowers embellishing upon the already impressive décor. Meanwhile, a stunning balcony offers jaw-dropping views of the glittering CBD at night.

The playful menu is designed by Chef Justin Wise (The Point, The Press Club) and combines exquisite international flavours with premium quality local produce. The dishes are made to be shared, providing diners with a chance to sample a little bit of everything. Think elegant fresh oysters served with fermented chilli in lime granita [$4.50 each] and delicate tuna tartare in sea urchin dressing with cucumber and black garlic [$16]. A standout on the menu is the incredible cobia that comes beautifully assembled with nuoc cham, finger lime, avocado and prawn crackers [$16].

Meanwhile, a selection of small plates with an American twist will surely seduce your tastebuds. Choose from fried chicken bits drizzled with Cajun dipping sauce [$13] or the fabulously creamy and oh-so-delicious King crab “mac & cheese” [$26]. For something a little more refined, try the asparagus with quail egg, candied walnuts and hollandaise [$14]. Its crisp freshness should balance out some of those irresistible carbs!

Larger dishes, such as the baby snapper with its abundance of mussels, clams and spring vegetables in a crustacean consommé [$29], are perfect to place in the centre of the table surrounded by sides. We recommend a bowl of moreish hand cut fries [$10] and the tart but very good pickled zucchini with goats cheese, frisée and pinenut salad [$10].

If you really want to have a slab of meat to yourself, then you simply can’t go past the 250g Robbins Island Wagyu grain-finished Flat Iron [$49]. If that’s still not enough, then opt for the Bovine Tasting Plate [$79]. Featuring 150g Robbins Island Wagyu Flat Iron, 150g Tasmanian Vintage eye fillet and 150g Porterhouse dry-aged for 35 days, this will certainly leave you and yours writhing at the booths in a food coma.

Dessert at Dutchess is modestly understated, though sweet-tooths will adore the violet crumble with chocolate aero, honeycomb and violet ice cream [$12]. Otherwise, choose from a selection of choc tops [$12], with flavours including raspberry & white chocolate, boysenberry, chocolate, as well as salted caramel.

To drink, Head Bartender Paul Ramsay has devised a list of veritable concoctions to suit every person and every mood. The Wasabi Collins [$18] in a base of Tanqueray London dry gin mixed with St Germain Elderflower liqueur, wasabi pea, lemon and soda is instantly refreshing and will surely bring out your inner adventurer. A range of bottled American beers, vintage French champagnes and an impressive selection of Australian wines are sure to keep the tipplers satiated and happy.

If you’re planning a function, the banquet menus may be tailored to suit your needs. There are both larger booths for big groups and smaller booths to suit intimate gatherings. With an elevator entrance manned by its very own operator, nothing is left wanting for a flawless celebration or a private dinner for two. Whether you’re stepping out of the office for a quick lunch, enjoying cocktails and nibbles or planning an impressive dinner, Dutchess is guaranteed to delight with its vivacious atmosphere and fantastic, dynamic fare.

Dutchess Restaurant & Bar

Address: Level 2, 146 Flinders St, Melbourne, VIC
Contact: (03) 9810 0055
Hours: Tue-Fri, 12pm-late; Sat 5pm-late.

Photos by Serena Ho for the AU Review