New Zealand-born chef Hayden McMillan has taken the reigns at Commune Group’s Italian venue Neptune two years after its launch.

McMillan has experience at a number of Auckland’s top restaurants including Merediths, The French Cafe, Huka Lodge and TriBeCa. He also lead the 15-strong kitchen at the Waiheke Island Yacht Club, a upmarket New Zealand restaurant set up in San Francisco for the duration of the America’s Cup.

More recently he launched his own bistro, Etta, in Brunswick, Melbourne.

McMillan’s first seasonal menu for Neptune embraces the venue’s coastal focus, with winter dishes including bonito crudo with fennel pollen; charred octopus, potato aioli and nduja dressing; spanner crab spaghetti, parsley and saltbush; artichoke al a greque, rigatoni and stracciatella; and pan-roasted snapper, cime de rapa and verjus broth.

“To me, good food is all about letting simple ingredients sing. I want our diners tasting the quality of produce we are putting on the plate,” says McMilllan. “Exploring regional Victoria through a coastal-Italian lense, the new menu is approachable, pared back and showcases fewer ingredients.”

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