Lucas Restaurants has been long lauded as one of Melbourne’s most prolific dining groups. From spicy share-plates at Chin Chin to artful sashimi banquets at Kisumé, the hospitality stalwart knows how to serve up must-visit venues in this city and beyond.
Now comes the new frontier for the restaurateurs: Society. The long-anticipated re-opening of this gargantuan, moody new multi-space venture finally took place this month, as Melbourne’s appetite grew only stronger for superb wining and dining through countless nights spent curled up at home.
Tucked away at 80 Collins Street, Society feels like a world unto itself. Dark, dramatic and decked out with aesthetic expertise, it’s swiftly becoming an unrivalled destination for suited city-dwellers and serendipitous visitors alike. Vying for a table at Society is worthwhile, with esteemed executive chef Martin Benn leading the charge on the culinary front and top mixologists crafting cocktails. (Match those to your new Jacquemus carry-on or Amina Muaddi heels for bonus points). Maybe Society is the start of your night for an urban knockoff, an impressive booking for date-night or a sophisticated backdrop for your next black-tie event. Choose your own adventure.
It’s swiftly becoming an unrivalled destination for suited city-dwellers and serendipitous visitors alike
Harrolds has been honoured to dress the Lucas coterie for years. We’ve also consumed our fair share of exquisite feasts and fancy drinks at their many institutions along the way. Fashion and good style are intrinsically connected to the Lucas family’s operations. And it’s with immense joy to see Melburnians gracing the halls of Society in the most exquisite garments and costuming our city has seen to date.
Today, we catch up with Lucas Restaurants’ Creative Director Holly Lucas to decipher the cuisine, interiors and inspiration behind Society. A sartorial savant, Holly cares about where she’s dining, who she’s dining with and what she’s dressing in for every occasion. Here are her musings on the grand unveiling of Society, what she’s forecasting to be worn there and a teaser of top-secret developments to come.
Tell us about your new opening: Society. What was the inspiration?
We wanted to create something that was iconically Melbourne and could capture the energy of this great city. Society is dramatic in scale, intimate in style. Effortless, timeless sophistication. We always build restaurants that have a sense of occasion. A stylish elevated place where you can dress up and feel like you’re anywhere in the world, but with a definite Melbourne sensibility.
What should we expect on the menu?
Society Dining Room reimagines à la carte dining with a menu presented in six sections allowing guests to curate their own experience. Acclaimed Chef Martin Benn has created different menu experiences throughout Society, expressing the entirety of his award-winning culinary journey and evolution of style.
And the fit-out?
Working with Melbourne based architects Russell & George, the design speaks to the very core of Melbourne itself. With two restaurants: Society Dining Room and Lillian Terrace, as well as Society Lounge Bar and various private dining spaces, the design blurs the transition between each location, giving a slight hint of what you are about to experience. The intention is to create an enticing energy of wanting more with each area, offering a glimpse of the next space. From the chandeliers to the chairs, every element was designed by Russell & George. Art too takes a position with works by Victorian artist David Noonan.
You’ve got a dining room, customised private dining, the Lillian Terrace and a luxury lounge, all with independent menu offerings. Walk us through what kind of evening or experience each space is intended for.
Society has been designed so that no two visits need ever be the same. The range of spaces and ever changing seasonal menus allow diners to curate their own experience each visit. We want people to use the space as per their requirement, whether that’s for a special occasion, a dinner or a martini at the bar.
And what do we wear to dine there?
Society attracts such a diverse crowd. We hope to see men and women across a broad demographic, with just as diverse senses of style.
The beauty of Society is that it’s a reason to dress up and escape to a world where fashion and dining go hand in hand. Where one feels as though they could be in NY, London or Paris. You’re dining in a space that welcomes a myriad of people wearing what makes them feel their best from modern and edgy, worldly and playful to clean and conservative.
The restaurant is modern and sophisticated, yet there is an elusive edginess to the environment. We imagine seeing diners dressed in anything from the understated elegance of designers like Tom Ford. and Petar Petrov, to garments from the likes of the more playful and daring Mach & Mach, Attico & Christopher Esber.
When did Lucas Restaurants and Harrolds first cross paths?
With two restaurants already on Flinders Lane (Chin Chin and Kisumé) and my office just around the corner to Harrolds, it has always been a lunch time go-to when I need to take a break. Fashion is a big part of my life and starting my morning with a chic look sets the tone for the day ahead.
More recently, I chose to work with Harrold’s to create our latest campaign for Society. The brands worked seamlessly with the space we have created. It was a no brainer to use Harrold’s clothing to style our models for the content we created.
A brand you’re loving right now for winter dressing?
At the moment I’m loving Attico, it can be both elevated or casual when worn with different accessories. In the climate we are living in at the moment, I feel it’s important to opt for pieces that have longevity and can be dressed up or down.
A recent look I loved was an Attico mini dress from Harolds I wore for Chin Chin’s 10th birthday. It’s a great piece and worked well with a fur coat thrown over.
Your most-cherished Harrolds garment?
My all-time favourite Harrold purchase was a Balenciaga trench coat that I was lucky enough to find at one of Harrolds famous mid-year sales. Coats and jackets are my most cherished pieces. They elevate any look and are perfect for the Melbourne climate. I always look for timeless pieces that can carry me throughout the years.
Where’s the before and after destinations for dinner at Society?
You will find me having a drink before and after dinner at our new Lounge Bar at Society. The emphasis is on the martini with a list of different styles, including The Caviar Martini, vodka infused with the umami-rich essence of caviar; it is served with a single bite created by chef Martin Benn – a caviar pretzel with smoked cream cheese. The Lounge Bar is walk-in only and worthy of a visit in its own right.
Anything special we should stay tuned for next?
Our upcoming launch of Yakimono is highly anticipated. It will be a high-energy Japanese grill specialising in Yakitori, due to open at the end of Winter which also features in the 80 Collins Precinct. Towards Spring, we also have an exciting new Italian concept coming to Flinders Lane – Grill Americano. Keep an eye out on our socials for launch dates.