The Van Haandel Group has confirmed the re-launch of Stokehouse St Kilda will take place on 6 December, with Ollie Hansford appointed as head chef.
The iconic Stokehouse restaurant on St Kilda Beach was destroyed in a fire in 2014, but has been brought back to life by architect Robert Simeoni, with interiors by Pascale Gomes-McNabb (first floor) and George Livisiannis (ground floor).
The building will be the first Design and Built 5 Star Green star building of its type. Whilst achieving this sustainability milestone has added a significant amount of time to the rebuild project, and an additional investment beyond $1.6 million, the group’s co-founder, Frank van Haandel said it was all worth it.
“The geothermal technology alone includes 8.5 kilometres of continuous copper piping, down to 80 metres below the building – those works added six months. It is daunting now to reflect on the work which has gone into achieving our 5 stars – however the results are incredibly exciting,” he said.
The entrance to the new Stokehouse building will be quite dramatic, with the entire ground floor buried under a sand dune, highlighting the 1.6m gap between the top of the sand dune and the Stokehouse Restaurant, which will appear as if it is floating above on the first floor. Access to Stokehouse will be through the sand dune adding to the theatrical sense of arrival.
“We want people to walk in and still have that same Stokehouse feeling – the laid back charm perfect for a relaxed lunch or dinner, overlooking the water, with the same great atmosphere, welcome feel and generosity,” Gomes-McNabb said.
“We also want to pay the utmost respect to our beachside location, and as part of that we have managed to source reclaimed timber from the fire breaks around the Dandenongs for use on our floors and walls,” said van Haandel.
The ground floor will be home to Pontoon, a new, casual concept by The Van Haandel Group, which will open at the end of October.
Pontoon includes a bar in the middle of the room, with a range of different style seating and table options, from shared high tables, custom picnic tables, relaxed banquette seating, to low lounges and stools.
With expansive views of Port Phillip Bay, Pontoon will have a focus on casual food, with the kitchen open all day and the majority of the dishes with be designed for sharing, and will focus on seafood cooked on a custom built four metre grill.
With a capacity for 350 patrons, Pontoon will have a tight wine list, an extensive beer offering, including 18 taps, and house cocktails like the Vitamin Sea and Frose (frozen Rose).
Also opening in October is premium fish and chip kiosk called Paper Fish. Located on the ground floor, Paper Fish will only be accessible via the boardwalk which connects the restaurant and the beach.
The more formal Stokehouse restaurant, launching in December, will seat 130 guests for lunch and dinner every day (except for Christmas Day), with the new Stokehouse seeing the introduction of a dedicated 12.5m oval shaped bar which straddles the restaurant and the outdoor terrace. The bar, lounge area and terrace will accommodate up 120 guests, with an all-day bar menu, allowing visitors to walk in at any time. The new terrace will also boast an open fire.
Chef Ollie Hansford, who has previously worked at Stokehouse Q and Stokehouse City, and was named Queensland Young Chef of the Year in 2015, will work closely with executive chef Richard Ousby to deliver a fresh, predominantly seafood driven menu.
"I am very excited to be back in the group, and in such a prestigious restaurant as Stokehouse St Kilda. I am very much looking forward to putting my head down and really pushing forward,” said Hansford.