Grounds of Arcadia
A Greek restaurant inside an award-winning silver cube in the courtyard of The Hellenic Museum.
The Hellenic Museum has been part of Melbourne's cultural landscape since 2007; however, it's only just become one of the city's impressive new lunch spots. The Grounds of Arcadia, the museum's first restaurant, gives everyone an excuse to spend more time in the former Royal Mint building and serves up a suitably Mediterranean menu in a leafy courtyard.
Currently open during the day from Tuesday through Friday, with evening dining coming down the track, Grounds of Arcadia is definitely impressive. Not only is it located within the museum's outdoor space, but also inside the silver cube that Sean Godsell designed for the inaugural MPavilion. The adaptable box lets natural light in, gives patrons a great view and still keeps the cold out, making it ideal for Melbourne's temperamental weather. And, obviously, makes it quite the eye-catching space for a meal as well.
If you want to take your meal up a notch again, you can book in a private dinner — inside two of the gallery's art-adorned spaces. One is decked out with a sculpture, The Messenger, by Australian artist Sam Jinks, and the other features a photo installation from Bill Henson. In other words, they're not the kind of places that you get to dine in every day.
With head chef Safat Hossain (who's worked at restaurants across Sydney and at the National Gallery of Victoria) leading the charge in the kitchen, the food and wine match the grandeur of the decor. Think refined and hearty dishes cooked in woodfired ovens and matched with a range of Greek wines, beers and spirits.
Culinary highlights include plenty of recognisable favourites, such as taramosalata ($10), chargrilled eggplant ($8) and tzatziki ($8) dips with pita, plus a meze range that spans beef and lamb keftedes ($15), pan-seared haloumi ($15), traditional lentil soup ($13) and spanakopita ($14). If you're on the mood for a sizeable meal, roast chicken is available by the half ($22) or as a whole chook ($38), while roast lamb comes in single ($24) and share ($46) options — with sides such as Greek roast potatoes ($10) with lemon, oregano and olive oil, as well as cauliflower and broccoli salad ($15) .
Dessert-wise, Grounds of Arcadia falls back on two tried-and-tested sweets, not that anyone will be complaining. Homemade baklava ($12) and galaktoboureko ($12) — a syrupy and flaky custard pie — are Greek staples for a reason.
Images: Kristoffer Paulsen.