When you come across a restaurant named ‘Matilda’, it’s safe to assume that what you will find inside is Aussie character.
Scott Pickett’s latest venture in the heart of South Yarra does exactly that. Seated below United Places Botanic Hotel, Matilda opened its doors in early June with an approachable modern Australian menu, getting back to basics with cooking over fire.
Matilda is named after Scott’s daughter and envisioned with a family-oriented character. It’s the latest of a long string of hospitality spots in Melbourne, starting with Estelle Bar and Kitchen in 2006, Estelle by Scott Pickett, Saint Crispin, and Pickett’s Deli and Rotisserie at Queen Victoria Markets, among others. Matilda holds a similar Australian focus to Estelle, with a whole new approach to delivering it.
Scott’s kitchen is open for guests to peer into and watch the chefs tackle the elements to produce the ramped-up bush-tucker style dishes. A regular oven-style situation is not something you’ll find here, rather smoker boxes, a josper grill, wood-fired oven, two fire pits and a rotisserie.
You will undoubtedly taste the difference that cooking over hot coals and using open fires makes with each mouthful of wood-roasted kohlrabi or smoked spanner crab. Each dish is crafted with fresh and native ingredients straight from the source of Australia’s natural bounty. Think Macedon Ranges Duck for two served with charred orange, John Dory on the bone with native grenbloise, or Kangaroo Tartare with fermented red peppers. Sweet treats follow suit, with Pink Lady Apple Tarte Tartins served with smoked vanilla bean, and Pineapple marinated in kangarila olive oil and chamomile, cooked rotisserie style.
The wine list also keeps a strong Australian focus, with an abundance of Australian labels on show and support from a few European stalwarts.
Matilda’s prime positioning, across the road from the Royal Botanical Gardens, is a fitting inspiration for the restaurant’s native and natural theme. Visitors will take a seat at earthy tables crafted from Otway Blackwood trees and eat meals from rustic ceramics by local designer, Andrei Davidoff.
For any foodie with a fetish for Australian cooking, there’s one more beautiful space to enjoy fresh, native ingredients to add to your list.