Bridging the seafood gap...
Seagrass is a relatively recent addition to the Melbourne scene, situated just above sister restaurant Pure South, on the mid-level of Southgate. Executive Chef Chris Wade has jumped in the deep end for his first executive chef role, but seems to be holding his own, just fine.
The interior design of Seagrass is particularly noteworthy, although it's strength is that you don't feel like you're in a "designed space". Natural light fills the room, and gives it a freshness that suits the seafood theme.
Naturally, the menu is very much focused on seafood, although there are one or two more meaty offerings, and several dishes mix "surf and turf" (though I hesitate to use that term for the mental images it tends to conjur). The food itself is of a very high standard, but excels on quality ingredients and cooking rather than original or unusual ideas. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and if you're feeling the need for an oyster or twelve, I highly recommend dropping in.
Other highlights include the seared Canadian scallops, and be sure to indulge in the Moreton Bay bugs, despite the hefty price tag.
The wine list offers the usual Australian suspects, but there are a few more than the standard lines on offer, and should keep most people satisfied without stretching the budget too far. Naturally, it's biased towards the whites, which is sensible given the fare on offer.
All in all, Seagrass is a quality addition to the Melbourne scene, and although there are others I'd go back to sooner, next time I have an oyster craving I know where to head! Hopefully as their patronage stabilises in the future, the opportunity for more adventurous dishes will present itself.
Edit Early 2009: Unfortunately it looks like Seagrass didn't strike a chord with Melbourne diners, and has closed it's doors permanently. I'll leave the review here for posterity. I'll be keeping an eye out for Chris Wade in the future though, as the food was great.
Mixed dozen oysters, natural
Seared Canadian scallops, truffled egg, port & red wine reduction, watercress & hazelnut salad
Special: Scallop, fois gras terrine
Special: Seared kingfish
Grilled Moreton Bay bugs, saffron pommes puree, sauce picada
Whites by the glass (plenty of choice)