Best of est | Hospitality Venues to Visit in 2022

  • Discover est’s curation of must-see spaces to wine and dine this year.

    Australia’s culinary scene is constantly evolving. Our eclectic culture, combined with an abundance of fresh produce and our passion for good coffee, means new cafes and restaurants are always cropping up. So as part of our ‘Best of est series, we are putting hospitality on the menu – and taking a closer look at five new and noteworthy venues; where the design is as captivating as it is complementary to the cuisine.

    The formal, elevated dining area at Gimlet by ACME Architecture + Interiors


    ACME Architecture + Interiors

    Located in Melbourne’s Cavendish House circa 1920, Gimlet’s grandeur is an ideal pairing with its building’s Chicago-style, neoclassical architecture. Tasked with transforming the heritage structure, ACME Architecture and Interiors took inspiration from its classic charm, paying homage to its storied past. 

    ACME created an amphitheatre-like space by framing the centralised bar and kitchen with four stately columns. An open-plan layout invites guests to enjoy the ‘main stage’ theatrics from all areas of the restaurant, resulting in both a culinary and voyeuristic experience.

    The tiered-floor plan provides patrons with three entertainment options; cocktails by the bar, casual dining in the booths of the lower level, or formal dining on the elevated upper level. Each zone is meticulously designed for its purpose. 

    Leather stools are tucked under stone benchtops in the bar, while gloss black panelled cabinetry is paired with monochromatic floor tiles. The casual dining area dressed with walnut coloured herringbone parquetry features rich crimson velvet or leather booths sitting beneath gold pendant lights. While on the podium level, the floor-to-ceiling curtain is accompanied by white linen-dressed tables and formal dining chairs, sage green carpet and ornate chandeliers.

    Genovese Coffee House

    Alexander & CO.

    A manufacturing building in Alexandria, Sydney, originally inhabited in the 1970s by Alfio Genovese to roast coffee, is reimagined by his grandson Adam Genovese into a retail coffee house. Tapping into its industrial heritage along with a strong nod to mid-century design, Alexander & CO. craft a multi-functional commercial space.

    Paying tribute to the Genovese’s family history and Adam’s visions for the future, building materials are kept to a minimum in favour of ‘adaptive reuse’. Minimising the environmental footprint, Alexander & CO. upgraded the retail space with harvested brickwork, recyclable, biodegradable, and reclaimed materials. Sustainable elements not only complement the existing warehouse but add to its character.

    Taking inspiration from a traditional Italian street front shop, an awning inside the entrance of Genovese Coffee House sets a playful, welcoming tone for patrons. The multifunctional space includes a sit-down cafe, a traditional espresso bar, a cold brew and training bar, the ‘family table’, and various retail displays.

    The colour palette is earthy, warm, and soothing. Terracotta tones meld with soft linen fabric, combined with stone benchtops and creamy brickwork, rendering it a destination for relaxation and reprieve from the hustle and bustle of Sydney’s city lifestyle. 

    The colour palette is earthy, warm and calming at Genevose Coffee House by Alexander & CO.

    Little Prince Wine

    IF Architecture

    Residing next door to the iconic Prince Bar in St Kilda, Melbourne is an intimate alternative to the Prince’s main bar, Little Prince Wine. IF Architecture has reimagined the previous storage room and retail space into an intimate bar, wine store, and cellar beneath.

    The result is a coalescence of modernity and the hotel’s Art Deco history and character. Little Prince Wine is designed to feel connected to the main hotel through carefully framed windows into the public bar and out to the ever-bustling Fitzroy Street. IF Architecture lent heavily on customisation for furniture and display items to ensure they embodied the ‘uniqueness of place’.

    The cellar, housing more than 4,000 local and international wines, resides beneath the wine store and bar. In the wine store, panelled cedar walls provide warmth against the black ceramic gloss wall tiles. An ivory-coloured custom fibreglass trough housing tasting wines creates interest with exposed copper pipe tapping into the building’s rich heritage. Polished concrete flooring complements a concrete benchtop surrounded by wool upholstered, black-framed, swivel Diiva stools by Grazia & Co.

    In the bar area, concrete flooring continues throughout, allowing the store and bar to meld as one, with leather banquette seating for enjoying cheese, antipasti, cured meats, and small bites. Muted greys, blacks, and whites are warmed with circular American oak tables. Subtle pops of colour, such as the soft green porcelain wall tiles in the kitchen, complement the fit-out.

    An intimate bar at Little Prince Wine flows effortlessly from the wine shop beyond, encouraging guests to linger and enjoy European inspired small bites.


    Fiona Lynch Office

    Purposefully pared-back to allow the culinary theatrics to shine, Parramatta’s latest Italian trattoria, CicciaBella offers a polished and understated dining experience. Interior designer Fiona Lynch unites natural stone and dark timber wall panelling with soft suede fabric to give a generous nod to traditional Italian eateries.

    Besser block walls combined with copper wall sconces create a playful edge; as does the graffiti adorned concrete columns by artist Benzo. Scuffed, galvanized steel walls, grey tones, and European oak flooring underfoot add to the clean, contemporary finish.

    Splashes of colour surface through the olive green velvet curtains and dining chairs, along with gloss jade green wall tiles. Tie-dyed cotton banners suspended from the ceiling in Sangiovese wine-red and Aperol spritz-orange are reminiscent of the football flags often seen draped in local Italian bars. 

    Like its daily fresh-made pasta, the restaurant design is a fresh take on traditional Italian trattorias; an edgy, urban adaptation that’s unfussy and humble. 


    The Stella Collective

    Nestled in Melbourne’s food and fashion hub, Flinders Lane, Hazel takes pride of place in the historic Richard Allen & Son building. The Stella Collective’s Hana Hakim crafted a deeply considered design, blending two dining levels and two design eras. 

    Hana preserved the historic character within the original elevated ceilings, including 100-year-old columns, while reimaging the space with an understated 1970s-inspired aesthetic. The interiors are refined and smart; maintaining focus on the cuisine, in favour of expensive interiors. “We balanced the elegant minimalist style while playing the maximalist card every now and again,” Hana explains, “We didn’t want to ‘over-design’ it.”.

    Upon arrival, refined, elegant black steel-framed windows and doors reference yesteryear. Timber flooring flows beneath delicate timber seating surrounding intimate round dining tables. Pale almond leather banquettes complete the pared-back style, subtly contrasting with elaborate custom-made chandeliers, gold wall sconces, wallpaper, and French antique mirrors.

    Hana’s vision sees the kitchen, usually located out of sight, positioned centrally on the first floor along a window line overlooking Flinders Lane. Hana explains, “As a patron when you ascend the staircase and behold this heavenly kitchen proudly showcasing beautiful cuisine, open fire pits, and the heart of hospitality, it truly conjurs awe, excitement, and love at first sight.”. 

    Hazel, designed by Hana Hakim from The Stella Collective, enjoys views over Flinders Lane. Maximalist touches offer eye-catching moments, including ornate ceiling pendants and gold wall sconces.

    Walnut Bentwood chairs and creamy banquette seating provide a pared-back aesthetic allowing the original building’s character to shine.

    Elegant, black-framed steel windows and doors encourage light and enhance Hazel’s sophistication.

    The kitchen in full view for patrons, proudly showcases fresh cuisine, open fire pits, and the heart of Hazel’s hospitality.

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