Solarace — Kew

Chef David Group re-launches brand-new fine-dining, asian fusion venue.​

Originally from the Sichuan, Yunnan and Gui Zhou provinces of China, David Li and his team of chefs have used the last six months to re-establish their Kew venue from an ‘all you can eat’ focused experience to a fine dining establishment. The venue is more like a gallery than a traditional restaurant and challenges guests to experience flavour partnerships that don’t usually cross cultural barriers. This combination of a well thought out physical venue experience, and a finessed, experimental menu means guests are in for an entirely sensory and unique dining experience. The bold move highlights Li’s extensive knowledge and reputation in the industry, whilst magnifying the strength of Sichuan cuisine and how it can partner with a global array of flavours.

The team have crafted a unique art-installation focused dining experience at the new Solarace venue, complete with circular booth seating, and deep red and royal blue ambient lighting. Whilst dining, guests will be encompassed by a number of theatrical projections on the ten metre long LED installation that runs the length of the bar, displaying images reminiscent of the regions specific to the chefs behind the menu. Neon signage punctuates the space, expressing Chinese sayings such as ‘master of spices’ which has always been Chef David’s claim to fame.

The venue has two defined sections.; guests can experience the full Autumn menu in a more intimate, formal setting towards the back of the venue, or the more contemporary and casual seating at the bar for those wanting to pair the dishes with a more relaxed atmosphere. Solarace will only be offering a set menu degustation of nine dishes, which has been designed to explore Li’s favourite Chinese regions.

The first menu to be launched at the venue begins with the Chef’s Trio of Appetisers, including Uni Sea Urchin Roe served with Yuzu Dashi Jelly, Beef Tataki wrapped around snow pea sprouts and Duck Pate topped with Beetroot Jelly. Fresh Coffin Bay Oysters are then served two ways, one with a traditional Chinese Horseradish sauce and the other topped with Japanese Yuzu Vodka and Salmon Roe.

Including the oysters, guests are presented with six different main dishes. Each of these dishes’ ingredients are all exclusively sourced by Chef David direct from their respective provinces; Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou. This includes their Confit Duck marinated in 13 Guizhou spices, and their vegetarian Mushroom Forest which showcases Tibet’s ‘Cordyceo’s Militaris’ — a rare and highly valuable variety of mushroom partnered with the highest-quality Sichuan Peppercorns. Solarace is the only restaurant in Australia to import and use these authentically sourced items from China and surrounding regions whilst still cooking them through traditional methods.

To complete the degustation experience, Japanese chocolate and berries are the highlighted Cherry Blossom Tree dessert in which chocolate bark, fairy floss, mixed berries and ice cream sit atop a raspberry base, presenting in the form of a beautiful Japanese Cherry Blossom tree. The Chef David team refer to it as a work of art that ‘ties in well with the art gallery theme of the restaurant’ where each dish is presented in a unique way that tells a story about its origins.

To match the quality and attention to detail of the Autumn menu, there’s an equally considered drinks menu featuring over 150 specialty pours, which will soon be expanding to 300 unique drops. The Solarace team have even created their own blend of Cabernet Sauvignon in partnership with Barmah Park Wines. This unique blend truly encapsulates what their Kew venue has to offer in terms of colours and taste, described as ‘Inky Red Black’ it features notes of spiced dark cherry and plum fruit, with a mint and peppery finish. Acting as an ode to the sophistication Chef David has introduced to his Kew location, the mint and pepper notes draw on the flavours presented in each meal of the course, making for the perfect companion to their Autumn menu.

Solarace’s re-opening as a fine dining, art-focused venue is a celebration of Chef David’s success within the Australian industry and the timely relaunch will reinvigorate the hospitality scene in Melbourne after what has been an extremely tough few years. Guests will be tantalised by how international flavours interweave with one another whilst they’re encompassed by an all-sensory experience at the revamped Kew venue.