Back in 2003, when Philip Kennedy, the owner of Pure South visited Tasmania to source some of the country’s finest produce for a new concept steak house, he had not imagined that a tiny fishing vessel in the distance was about to re-write his plans.
“I think I have told the story a hundred times,” Philip says. “And I feel like a bit of a cheat for telling the same story again and again, but it is the story. There is nothing else but what actually happened’.
Furneaux Tavern in Lady Barron on the south coast of Flinders Island is situated on a picturesque green hilltop overlooking the sea. Time stands still here; the air is clean and the view from the tavern is an almost interrupted view of the harbour.
“I had arrived with the express purpose of talking meat. Back in 2003, there were only a few old-school steak restaurants in Melbourne, so the plan was to take a new approach on meats; how they are cut and prepared, creating a new dining experience”. Philip has a proud and sentimental tone in his voice when he recalls overlooking the water while sitting with the chef of the tavern who excused herself to take a call from Barney, the local fisherman whose boat was making its way across the water in to dock at the pier.
Soon after, Philip was witnessing something pretty special as Laney returned from the pier with the freshly hauled seafood; crays, flathead, salmon and squid. Laney commented, “caught today, and it’s on the menu tonight.” It’s a pretty romantic notion, and the stories of the food and people from these small Tasmanian islands were becoming a much more powerful idea than meat alone. Philip recalls it taking over him; first the goosebumps and then the mind explosion of how can we get that to Melbourne and be equally as fresh from provenance to plate.
One year later, Pure South opened its doors and the dream had become a reality. These small Tasmanian islands were so easily connected by air, and it was not impossible to see what Barney brings to pier first thing in the morning on the menu at the restaurant that evening. The menu boasts a range of artisan produce from Tasmania under the watchful eye of Executive Chef David Hall, who was already a Head Chef at UK Michelin Star ‘Number One’ restaurant at The Balmoral, at the age of 24.
David oversees around 25 kitchen staff who make up a team of nearly 90 across Pure South Dining and Pure South Kitchen. The dining room is now in its fifteenth year and Pure South Kitchen at river level opened to offer a more relaxed dining experience, but with the same pride of exclusive relationships with great providores of the south.
One of the many great relationships is with Guy Robertson of Mount Gnomon Farm, who supplies rare-breed pork to Pure South, and occasionally other items from the ancient breeds he is working to preserve, which include beef, lamb, ducks and chicken. Everything is managed sustainably and passionately. “There are ten little stories like this” states Philip. “Some of the country’s best produce like Stanley Lobsters and Huon Salmon would fly right over our heads and into the Asian market, my ambition was to fly them to Moorabbin airport and get them to our restaurant, same day. It hasn’t been easy, but it is worth it”.
Pure South Kitchen and Pure South Dining are classically Melbourne. Marco Vecchio has been the Barista for over ten years and serves Grinders Coffee as it too has a rich Melbourne history and a premium product offering.
Pure South Dining and Pure South Kitchen
3 Southgate Ave, Southbank VIC
puresouth.com.au | 03 9699 4600