With a crack team led by a fine dining chef and career restaurateur, this South Yarra bistro is a local favourite in the making. Vesper, an intimate bistro & bar, will open at 25 Toorak Rd, South Yarra on Tuesday, 2 February 2021. Inspired by the relaxed elegance and gentle warmth of the Mediterranean islands, Chef Francesco Castellana (formerly of Per Se, NYC and Melbourne’s Vue de monde) has developed a seafood-led menu of classic regional flavours.
Chef Francesco has carefully selected exceptional locally sourced, seasonal ingredients to create flavours that take guests on a journey from the Cote d’Azur, to the Balearic and Greek islands. Diners can expect dishes such as chilled almond gazpacho with olive oil poached mackerel; mussels escabeche served with tarragon and black garlic fougasse; Sardinian fregola with saffron-braised abalone and pecorino cheese; and crispy red mullet with potato & caper puree and preserved lemon salmoriglio.
Originally from Bari, Italy, Chef Francesco’s experience is firmly planted in the world of fine dining, including New York’s Per Se, Vue de monde and Bistro Vue in Melbourne. Now leading the culinary direction and team at Vesper, his dishes combine the authenticity of traditional bistro-style flavours with a focus on purity, balance and precision.
The street-front dining room has been thoughtfully designed combining warm tones, mirrored finishes and a vibrant floral wall canopy that together convey the feel of an elegant Mediterranean bistro. With a warm, welcoming atmosphere and ambient lighting, guests are encouraged to sit back, relax and enjoy a fun evening with family and friends.
“The Green Room” is Vesper’s secret rear bar and dining room, which opens onto a charming outdoor courtyard with a fountain and cascading greenery – a hidden gem for dinner or enjoying delicious crudo from the Raw Bar whilst sipping cocktails, including the ice-cold namesake signature Vesper martini. Alongside a carefully curated wine list of European boutique vintages and Australian favourites, the cocktail list tempts for pre-, mid- and post-dining.
Vesper is the first Melbourne venue for owners Duncan and Marlane Fraser-Smith, who have returned home to Australia after a decade in Dubai. A passionate career restaurateur, Duncan has had over 25 years’ success in creating, developing and operating a multitude of restaurants, bars, cafés and nightclubs. He has achieved recognition and awards for his work on projects throughout the Middle East, Asia and Europe and is founder of The Cutting Edge Hospitality Agency. Likewise, Marlane has over 20 years in leadership roles within the hotel, travel and global hospitality sector. Their love for exploring the regions on their doorstep while in the UAE and travelling throughout the Mediterranean islands seeded the idea for Vesper.
“We always wanted to open a restaurant that we would be excited to go to,” says Duncan, “something that reflected not just our personalities but also our experience. In meeting Chef Francesco, we found a great alignment in thinking and more importantly in creating a bistro that captures the flavours of the Mediterranean islands. We look forward to Vesper becoming part of the exciting South Yarra dining culture and community”.
Vesper will open to the public on Tuesday, 2nd February 2021. Located at 25 Toorak Rd, South Yarra, it will be open for dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays, 5pm to late. Bookings can be made via Vesper’s website or by phone on 03 9038 8088.
25 Toorak Rd, South Yarra VIC 3141
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 5pm–late
Phone: 03 9038 8088
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