Nomad executive chef Jacqui Challinor gives us the lowdown on what to hit at Flinders Lane’s new flame-powered, Mediterranean-inspired restaurant.

The long-awaited Melbourne-coming of Sydney’s Mediterranean-Middle Eastern superstar is upon us, and it’s shaping as every bit deserved of the hype. Parachuting into premium company on Flinders Lane, Rebecca and Al Yazbek’s hearth-core 100-seater bar and restaurant opens on the lower ground floor of the Adelphi Hotel Monday 15 November, and will feature a few hits from the original menu amongst plenty of new moves for its southern audience. “The heart and soul behind what we do remains,” says executive chef Jacqui Challinor, meaning the produce stays local, the charcuterie house-made, and the oysters, naturally, come caviared and Champagne-paired, in a menu set to tickle Melbourne’s fondness for all-day grazing in debonair digs.

“I’m really excited to explore what Victoria has to offer in regards to produce and hopefully with that, create something really special that is unmistakably Nomad,” says Challinor. Us, too – here’s how you might go about ordering according to the boss.

What should we order at Nomad?
I’m a grazer, and (very selfishly), the menu is designed around the way I love to eat. All good meals start with good bread, and our flatbread is something that I’m particularly proud of, alongside our house-made charcuterie; a Nomad tradition that will continue in Melbourne. The menu revolves around the wood-fired oven and hearth, with flavours inspired by the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Expect to see a few of the old favourites from the Sydney menu adapted to engage with Victorian producers, and plenty of new dishes too. The charcuterie room will be ever-changing, but always hanging full of amazing Victorian producers such as Great Ocean ducks, Blackmore, and O’Connor.

A great aperitif cocktail that will be making the journey south with us is our Gimlet Martini. It is made with native finger lime and chive oil. It has a real savoury edge and some exotic citrus from the finger limes.

I’m here for a good time, not a long time.
A selection of our house-made charcuterie and wood-fired flatbread with Persian lime and wattleseed za’atar. You also can’t go past the smoked Spring Bay mussels with toum and the crispiest of hash browns, or the barbecued Blackmore tongue with house-made yoghurt and chilli. A great match with our charcuterie is our house pinot noir made by Will Gilbert who has just won young winemaker of the year. There is a beautiful acid line that cuts through the fattiness of the cured meat.

Got anything light and fresh?
The raw kingfish cracker with avocado, finger lime, and coriander has become the star of the show at Nomad Sydney and is the perfect option for something light and fresh.

I like tasty food but I don’t eat animals.
Our menus have always been really vegetarian and vegan friendly – it’s something I’ve always been conscious of. My pick would be to start with flatbread and wood-roasted sweet and sour eggplant (vegan), zucchini flowers with truffle honey and pecorino, whole roasted sweet potato with shiitake XO (vegan) and a side of shaved fennel with house-made shanklish.

Name the dish that captures the Nomad Melbourne vibe.
One of the things I love most about Melbourne is that there are so many amazing restaurants in such close proximity to each other. You can literally spend the whole day grazing if you like. Melbourne does the all-day, late-night dining thing really well and that’s something I’ve tried to think about when creating the menu. The dish we’re working on at the moment that I feel really embraces that spirit is the baked ricotta, made with jersey milk from Messina’s dairy farm in Numurkah, Ortiz anchovies, and wood-roasted peppers.

Let’s go big. Let’s go crazy. What have you got for me?
Nothing says going large to me like oysters, caviar, and Champagne! Start with Sydney rocks, shucked to order with a side of Polanco Grand Reserve Oscietra or Yarra Valley caviar and a glass of André Clouet Champagne. We’re also working on a wood-roasted rock lobster dish that will be the perfect way to celebrate the end of lockdown and a return to the things we love doing.

The private dining room is the perfect spot to book for anybody looking to do something really special. Nothing says decadence like your own private party where someone else does the washing up.

And to close?
My all-time favourite dessert and now a Nomad signature: the olive oil ice-cream sandwich with halva, pistachio, and honey. We still see a few raised eyebrows from time to time at the mention of olive oil ice cream, but it’s always nice to see a guest’s eyes light up when they try it. It is fantastic when paired with the Crawford River 2017 Nektar riesling from Henty. Top-quality dessert wine can be hard to come by in Australia and we think this is one of the best around. These guys are riesling specialists and their Nektar offering is a real hidden gem.

Nomad opens Monday 15 November; lunch Wed-Sun, dinner daily, 187 Flinders Ln, Melbourne, 03 8419 2800,