From the lobby of the new Le Meridien hotel at the top end of Bourke Street, descend the Deco staircase at to discover Dolly, a moody restaurant with interiors inspired by the 1930s and evoking the mystique of backstage and recalling the site’s history as a cinema and a live music venue.
Chef Christian Graebner’s menu draws on classic European cuisine while showcasing, seasonal local produce. Graebner grew up in a small, food-loving town in northern Bavaria, and then undertook classical French training in butchery and patisserie, so he brings a perspective all his own to the brief: familiar, yet unexpected.
Here’s his introduction to the menu.
What’s your go-to dish at Dolly?
My personal favourite is the cured salmon roulade; the zestiness of the cure balances well with the creaminess of the buttermilk, and the bitterness of the leek ash. A light way to start the night, the dish pairs well with a glass of grüner veltliner.
How about for a drink?
The founder of CellarHand, Patrick Walsh did a fantastic job with our wine list. A lighter start is the Shadowfax Macedon pinot noir served by the glass, but if you’re here to stay then I would recommend the Mr Miller cocktail. A blend of whiskey, muscat, and Pineau des Charentes with maple and dark chocolate notes – delicious.
I’m here for a good time, not a long time.
In our venue above Dolly, Intermission, we offer European-inspired small-plate dishes all night long. I recommend trying out our bacalao fritters, or our char-grilled octopus, finished in a tasty glaze of red wine, red onions, and Champagne vinegar.
We also have Le Scoop, Le Meridien’s signature gelato station in the hotel foyer, serving a selection of six local and European flavours that we make ourselves. Why not grab a scoop of blood peach and wattleseed sorbet on the way out?
Got anything light and fresh?
Among the lighter options, we offer a salt-baked beetroot dish with a walnut mousse and rhubarb. The King George whiting en papillote is a good choice among the main courses – steamed Port Phillip Bay whiting with Portarlington mussels, saffron, fennel and Yarra Valley salmon caviar.
What if I like tasty food, but don’t eat animals?
The salt-baked beetroot and our savoury ricotta savarin cake are the choice vegetarian offerings at Dolly. Both dishes have their roots in European recipe books, and have had a 2023 makeover to be ready for Melbourne diners.
Which dish best captures the essence of what you’re doing at Dolly?
The bombe Alaska – popcorn and salted caramel ice-cream (an ode to Le Méridien’s past life as a theatre) to give it a flavour we all adore, topped with rum-torched meringue. We enjoy putting on a show.
Let’s go big. Let’s go crazy. What have you got for me?
Our signature menu takes you on a ride through our highlights: Start with freshly shucked Appellation oysters with a Champagne sorbet. Then spoon up the mosaic of cured salmon, coated in leek ash, with a buttermilk dressing and crisp fish skin. Indulge in a grass-fed, six-star beef tenderloin from the O’Connor paddock in Victoria. Pair this with a classic sauce Robert, mushroom duxelles, and bling-baked puff pastry – a true feast for the senses. Did I mention that we finish all of this off with the bombe Alaska flamed tableside? Pop a bottle of Roederer 2014 Cristal if the occasion demands some celebration.
And to close?
You could enjoy all the food in the world at Dolly, then take the lift up to your room and fall asleep overlooking the Melbourne skyline, Parliament House, and our rooftop pool. What better way to finish the evening?
Do you guys do breakfast?
We do that in bed … breakfast, brunch, Axil coffee, amazing canelés and fresh croissants. La vie est formidable!