Sitting on the lonely side of Fitzroy Street in St Kilda is Tolarno Eating House + Bar. Having recently undergone a facelift, this South Side local has been welcoming in locals and tourists alike to see what’s new. My plus one and I arrived on a sunny evening to find the friendly staff joking between each other – it seems like a happy place to be.
Only a few doors away from the infamous, and soon to be TV famous, former Gatwick Hotel (which will be the next renovators dream on The Block), Tolarno feels right at home. Local residents and workers have already discovered this foodie haven ripe for an expedition, and as we get led to our seats in the dining room, we find out that in the separate bar area a trivia night is about to begin – this is our kind of place.
A long, colorful mural by none other than Mirka Mora covers one wall of the well-lit dining area. For those not in the know, Mora is one of Australia’s most recognisable artists and ran a restaurant here with her husband during the 1960’s. There are plenty of other Mora originals decorating the venue for keen art lovers.
Head Chef Sam Parslow has created an approachable menu that is seasonal and modern. St Kilda locals will love it just as much as a North Side foodie. Lamb, pork, chicken and beef fans are all well catered for, though the vegetarian options are just as tempting. The Porcini mushroom arancini with truffle salt is a must as are the mouth-watering goats cheese croquettes with pickled apple relish. The tangy kingfish ceviche soaked in passion fruit and lemongrass sauce was a great addition to the menu and went perfectly with the classic cocktails on offer.
Our main course, Parisian pan-fried gnocchi, tomato, sweet garden peas and chargrilled asparagus was super cheesy and perhaps one of the best gnoccis we have tried. We will be back for some more again soon.
We love that St Kilda is transforming from a backpackers paradise to somewhere the rest of Melbourne wants to visit. Tolarno embraces the suburbs bohemian history, the buildings amazing Mirka Mora murals and serves up delicious food that will be loved by all.
Tomas Zagoda is a filmmaker, writer, coffee addict and tall person who does not play basketball. You can follow him @TomasZagoda.
Tolarno Eating House is open Wednesday to Sunday. There is plenty of on street parking and the venue is partly accessible.