Trunk Bar & Restaurant
275 Exhibition Street, Melbourne
03 9663 7994
Trunk is a bar, restaurant, diner, and outdoor dining destination in one of the best locations in Melbourne’s CBD. With a former synagogue as its home base, a huge outdoor garden and glasshouse-esque diner, it rises to the challenge of providing something for everyone.
A huge space sitting on the corner of Exhibition and Little Lonsdale, Trunk offers two dining options: the Bar and Restaurant, which serves smart Italian dishes in an architecturally stunning but casual setting, and The Diner, which focuses on food that everybody loves: fried chicken, specialty salads and burgers.
Nick Kutcher founded the unique concept. In his search for the right venue, he happened upon a goldmine in the form of a large garden lot, complete with a 150-year-old heritage-listed coral tree. Opening in 2007, the restaurant found its home inside the former Mickveh Yisrael Synagogue and Hebrew School.
The building’s original architecture and extensive history are proudly on display. Towering black shelves holding glasses, plates and wine reach up to a stunningly high sea-foam-green ceiling. Large glass windows allow light to stream onto the massive white-marble bar, and black tables set with white napkins cater to both the casual and deliberate diner.
The Diner is housed in a glass-walled dining room with a roof that opens to let the sun in during the warmer months. The Diner is the restaurant’s answer to daytime cafe cuisine, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.
Chef, Orazio Cutuli, oversees both the restaurant and diner kitchens at Trunk. Having worked at Café e Cucina, Café Latte, and Madame Jo Jo’s, Orazio is committed to cooking honest food with love, making as much as possible in-house and sourcing the majority of his ingredients from within a 150-kilometre radius.
One of the restaurant and bar’s most-loved dishes is the gnocchi gratinati, which features baked house-made gnocchi with a gorgonzola, taleggio, parmesan and goat’s cheese sauce, caramelised pear and walnuts. The Wagyu burger is The Diner’s best-known item: 175 grams of fresh-ground Wagyu beef served on grilled brioche with thick-cut tomato, house-made pickles and baby cos lettuce.
The drinks menu is equally as varied. There are two beer taps that rotate weekly, as well as some regular appearances from brews like White Rabbit Dark Ale and Mount Kosciusko Pale Ale. This is no wine list to glance at: the ten-plus options by the glass mean some consideration is needed. Finally, cocktails fall under two categories: specialties and classics. Choose your preferred poison or have the bartenders whip something up – it’s sure to be delicious regardless.
“Melbourne is a lot like Trunk,” said Nick, “a mix of old and new, great outdoor spaces, stunning architecture, beautiful trees, great food, wine, and sensational coffee.” He and Orazio have indeed created a comprehensive dining establishment, one likely to satisfy every visitor, for every occasion.