Paul Wilson has finally, after much delay, opened his all-day brasserie, bar and cafe Wilson & Market on the edge of the Prahran Market. Known for having a hand in highly successful ventures including The Botanical, Newmarket Hotel, Acland St Cantina and Circa Bar & Restaurant, Wilson & Market marks Wilson’s first solo venture with partner Bec.
The restaurant successfully strikes a balance between sophistication and casual dining, creating a space that is both elegant and relaxed. “This restaurant was really, for me, making a bold statement that Melbourne deserves restaurants like this that offer reservations, quality table service (and) a fantastic wine list,” says Wilson.
Shunning current Melbourne food trends and (temporarily) turning his back on his reputation as one of Australia’s most prominent experts on Latin food, Wilson has returned to his roots, focusing on taking classic techniques and quality ingredients and turning them into contemporary dishes. “Trends come and go, but good food never goes out of fashion,” says Wilson.
The unassuming brassarie menu reads simply enough: Berkshire porchetta; Milking Yard Farm Sommerlad chicken; and Black Angus prime rib. But what the menu fails to evoke is the just how beautifully considered and complex in flavour these dishes really are. Wilson and executive chef Dave Marshal rely heavily on the quality of their ingredients to elevate the ordinary to the extraordinary. “My philosophy is keep it simple. There’s not a lot of trickery on the plate. I’m more about highlighting the work of the farmer and the integrity of the chef,” says Wilson.
The menu also features a good number of seafood and vegetable dishes, with highlights including soft shell QLD mudcrab & sea urchin risotto; slow roasted cauliflower, house coconut yoghurt & spices; and the signature dish, notably vegetarian, of warm poached farm egg Australian truffles, Reggiano & soft polenta. “All the salads, all the vegetable dishes are really inspiring. They celebrate the quality of the ingredients,” says Wilson.
The restaurant’s position at the Prahan Market enables Wilson to indulge in his obsession for sustainably farmed ingredients, placing the producers literally at the restaurants doorstep. “I’d say 40 per cent of my ingredients come from the market. [And] we’ve teamed up with some small farmers from the Mornington Peninsula who are biodynamic farmers and they grow some of the best produce I’ve ever seen in my life,” says Wilson.
Booking can be a little intimidating: choose from a seat at the seafood bar where you can do a fish-focused degustation for $160; or choose a $75 rotisserie set menu at the high table. But for the best of both worlds, opt for a table in the main dining room and order a la carte.
If you don’t see anything on the 100+ bottle wine list to pair with your dish, grab one from the retail space and take it back to your table for an additional $15 corkage fee. Or if you’re after something stronger, grab a seasonal cocktail from the Luxe bar list, which specialises in premium white spirits with a focus on local craft Australian brands.
Wilson & Market have also launched their Meet the Maker series, inviting foodies to meet local producers over a meal. They are also open for breakfast and lunch, where you can grab your choice of rotisserie meat with a glass of wine or beer for $55.
Wilson & Market
163-185 Commercial Road, Prahran
(03) 9804 7530