When it comes to dining out in Yarraville Village there are lots of wonderful choices, but since the closure of Fidama (with apologies to Café Terroni and Azabu Juban) one could argue there isn’t a lot of choice towards the higher end of the scale. That has all changed with the arrival of Bar Romanée. The Westsider recently sat down with co-owner, Chef Anna Quayle
Your resume boasts some great experience but locals might be familiar with you through your occasional cameo at Barkley Johnson. How did you become involved with Jim Gridas?
I met Jim as a customer at Barkley Johnson. I helped on the BBQ and behind the bar when I was between cheffing jobs. One day in 2014 he asked me if I wanted to cook a few French things for Bastille Day which turned into a 7 course degustation with matched wines.
What was the inspiration for that moment when you both said “Let’s do this”?
We both knew after the Bastille dinner that a restaurant was in our future, it just took a long time (years) for the right location.
How far into renovation of the space were you when you realised COVID was not going away quickly?
We started the Demolition in early January with plans to open by May, Covid slowed down the whole process. In May we had completed the fit out and I was on the way to buy our tables and something in my subconscious stopped me and said I don’t think we’re going to need these for a while.
Hospitality has always been about being flexible – what was the thought process behind adjustments you needed to make to open?
We needed to make our offer the best representation of what Bar Romanée will be post Covid. To do this we offered a Chefs Selection Menu and reduced drinks list for the opening weeks so that I knew how much produce we needed to cater for our restricted number of guests.
For those who are unfamiliar with your ideas and work, what type of dishes and complimentary tastes can people expect?
Expect all fresh Victorian produce with house made pastas and classic French sauces
Coming in here, it’s obviously so much more than a bar, so where on the foodie spectrum are you pitching Bar Romanée?
We want to be a go to for locals and also a reasons to cross the bridge for others
You trained with French chef Pierre Koffmann at The Berkely in London – how did that compare to the gigs you’d had prior?
My first job in Melbourne as a 19 year old was at the Station Hotel in Footscray so the foundations for good food and hard work had been set for me. My time at Koffmann’s was the hardest yet most rewarding two years of my career.
How will those Euro-influences translate to Yarraville do you think?
I think it will be embraced by most, the flavours are clean, classic and complimentary.
Given the restrictions, what sort of short-medium term plans do you have?
To continue to welcome new guests to Bar Romanée as restrictions ease and we enter the festive season. Also to become a part of Yarraville’s community.
Ultimately what would you hope to be able offer your patrons?
We want people to feel welcome in all occasions if it be for a quick drink at the bar, bite to eat before a film at The Sun, long lunch with friends on the banquette or a special night out.
Where did the ‘Bar Romanée” name come from?
The name is inspired by a highly sought after red wine from France. We bounced around a few names and decided on this to reflect our dedication to fine wines.
And now for a tough one. You share the same name as a prominent post-war English actor who featured in Hard Day’s Night, Casino Royal and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. If you could cook for her, what would you make?
For a complete dinner I’d have to go with my favourites off our current menu:
To start: Romanée Caramelised Onion and Rosemary Baguette (by Cobb Lane)
Citrus Cured Ocean Trout with Beetroot and Horseradish Yoghurt
Then: House Made Pappardelle w Asparagus and Soft Herbs
And to finish: Dark chocolate and Salted Caramel Tart
Bar Romanée is at 25 Anderson St, Yarraville. Phone 9687 8451 for bookings. Follow via instagram.com/romanee_yarraville