Mode is an oasis in the sweeping Four Seasons hotel atrium. Designed by Luchetti Krelle (ACME, Banksii), the restaurant's design aims for a muted, tasteful take on jazz-age glamour. There are fluted glass screens curling around tables, decadent touches of velvet, brass and marble and curves as far as the eye can see.
There's a classical cocktail list to go with the classical space, too. Including a Mode and Gin Tonic ($15), which makes good use of StrangeLove's dirty tonic, a boutique bitter that draws on raw cinchona bark to impart a distinctive taste. Other cocktails are twists on favourites, like old fashioneds and mojitos. Or you could try something off the wine list — a 2016 See Saw Pinot Noir ($16), for example, is earthy and rich red with plum and cherry notes.
The menu, by Italian-born chef Francesco Mannelli (ex-.est, Balla), embraces simplicity, emphasising quality ingredients in a refined, upmarket bistro style. A starter of kingfish sashimi ($23) shows his visual flair; twists of raw meat are entwined with wine-coloured sweet-and-sour onions, halved macadamias and flecks of green from lettuce leaves.
For mains, dishes come charred, smoked and roasted from the grill and woodfire oven, such as the whole fish of the day ($38). This may be an immaculately cooked John Dory, with crackling skin giving way to plenty of succulent white flesh, served with a small jug of thick, flavoursome tarragon butter sauce. Similarly stripped back are the tenderloin medallions ($43). Two velvety soft pieces of meat come with florets of woody, char-roasted pieces of cauliflower hidden underneath.
The time-honoured chocolate delice ($15) will help you round out the meal. A dense, glossy disc of rich chocolate comes paired with fresh strawberry gelato. As a perfectly simple old-school dish, it's a good snapshot of Mode's approach. But if you'd rather not end on a sweet note, look to the cheese boards (1 for $12, 2 for $18). You might have a milky white, sheep's milk Ossau-Iraty with a splash of chilli jam, or a creamy La Luna goat's milk cheese from an organic farm in Sutton Grange, Victoria.
Hotel restaurants (particularly in Australia) don't have the best reputation, but Mode has broken that mould. With a sleek design, classic drinks list and refined, tasty food, it ticks all the boxes.