In the past few years, chefs and restaurateurs have been pushing the boundaries of dining, constantly looking for new ways to excite, entertain and enjoy. The latest iteration of this comes in the form of Private Dining Room, Melbourne’s first underground supper club, where the same meal is never served up twice.
Tim O’Donnell devised the concept for PDR in 2014 while enjoying a bottle of wine in his courtyard with some friends. He was reflecting on what his ideal dining experience would be like if it wasn’t confined to a space, theme or even a chef. Having worked across some of Melbourne and New Zealand’s best restaurants he was perfectly placed to bring this vision to life.
Tim’s premise behind PDR is to showcase talented local chefs and the best local producers in Australia. He lures his chefs with the promise of coffee and beer, but the real drawcard for them is the freedom to create a menu with zero restrictions.
It’s an intimate dining experience where diners are greeted personally by Tim, and encouraged to mingle with their fellow foodies over a drink before being seated.
Expect the unexpected during a night at PDR, starting with the venue. Whether it’s a studio or a heritage-listed St Kilda mansion, PDR wants diners to experience something more creative and challenging than they would at a regular restaurant.
It was a year between inception and the first dinner in September 2015, which was held in a photography studio in the CBD. Matthew Butcher (Morris Jones) was the chef in charge that night, and he rolled out a black and white themed meal to match the surrounds. Since then, Simon Tarlington (Highline Restaurant) brought his diners a farm-to-table degustation reflective of his country roots.
PDR most recently combined forces with Jo Barrett and Harry Corder (Oakridge Restaurant), for a spectacular night at Converted Church in Fitzroy.
Dinner is paired with small local and international wines hand-picked by Tim – the sommelier behind L’Hotel Gitan’s wine list. Design is in the details at PDR, everything from the waiter’s aprons by Fazeek to the floral arrangements by Bellawood is carefully considered.
PDR has amassed a loyal group of disciples, with a few guests who have attended every event. All events are ticketed and are limited in numbers, so be quick!
Dining at PDR might feel like a dream, brought to you by a self-proclaimed dreamer. Even the pickiest of Melbourne diners will leave satisfied, knowing that they’ve experienced a night that will never be replicated.
To find out more about Private Dining Room and see what’s in store for the next couple of months, check out their website here.
Words by Allyse Wafer