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FOOD & DRINK

La Madonna Is the Luxe Hotel Bar and Restaurant Taking Over an Entire Floor Inside Next Melbourne

Roll in for clever snacks and a creative drinks list filled with barrel-aged concoctions.
By Libby Curran
April 01, 2021
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By Libby Curran
April 01, 2021
  shares

The humble hotel restaurant-and-bar combo is levelling up with each new opening. And Melbourne's latest, housed within the newly launched Next Hotel Melbourne, is an absolute doozy. La Madonna opens its doors on Thursday, April 1, showing off a warmly chic space that spreads across the hotel's entire third floor — and cementing its status as one of the most hyped new additions to the ever-growing 80 Collins Street precinct.

At once swanky and understated, the venue is decked out in a mix of old-world and mid-century modern features, with a healthy dose of marble, sumptuous textures and rich leather lounges. You'll spy a soaring glass cabinet brimming with cheese and charcuterie, while a striking ceramics installation crafted by artist Jodie Gray hangs from the ceiling.

Heading up the kitchen is the dynamic duo of Daniel Natoli and Adrian Li — two renowned Melbourne chefs who've previously worked together at the likes of Donovan's, Saigon Sally and Tokyo Tina. Here, the pair is joining forces to deliver a creatively charged seasonal offering that pays homage to their respective Sicilian and Hong Kong heritages. For the snackers, there are crafty bites like salt and vinegar zucchini fritto, a smoked eel dip finished with Yarra Valley roe, and grilled ox tongue skewers with a bonito glaze and salsa verde. Pasta options might include pappardelle dressed in a rich ragu of pork, beef and fennel, while larger plates run to the likes of baked John Dory matched with Sichuan flavours and a warm tomato vinaigrette.

You might remember hearing that Next Melbourne is the first Australian hotel to barrel age its own spirits. And up here on level three is where the magic happens. At the heart of La Madonna is The Barrel Room — a cosy chamber lined with barrels where Spirits Master Phil Smithers is helming an innovative barrel maturation program, featuring an array of different spirits, cocktails and herbal liquors. You can wrangle one of the eight Barrel Room seats for a close-up tasting experience, or see the program's results at play throughout the rest of La Madonna's offering.

The drinks list showcases plenty of these barrel-matured creations, across sips like a rhubarb and tonka bean soda, a gimlet starring river mint cordial, and a daiquiri that blends aged rum with mango and a chamomile grappa. Soon, you'll be able to sit down to a special tasting pairing cheese with variously aged spirits, and you'll likely spy the results of some barrel-aged condiment experimentation hitting the food menu — and sip barrel-aged wine, too. On the vino front, the diverse curation largely heroes sustainable winemakers and small-scale local labels.

Find La Madonna on Level 3 of Next Hotel Melbourne, from Thursday, April 1 — open daily from 7am till late. Entry is via 103 Little Collins Street, Melbourne.

Published on April 01, 2021 by Libby Curran

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