A Mediterranean restaurant by the Herringbone crew brings “low-key luxury” to Toorak Gardens.
Inside Herringbone’s sister restaurant Trak
Quentin Whittle, Paul Tripodi and Ben McLeod are no strangers to providing a top-tier restaurant experience.
So, when the opportunity arose to expand their hospitality dream, the trio decided to go for it.
“We always take every opportunity on its merits and see,” Ben says.
“In saying that, it’s not easy… so I think we’re quite cautious in what we do, but we just want to get it right and make sure it works.”
“It’s usually when you get to this point [of expansion], where you go ‘I’m never fucking doing that again’ just before it opens and then after a while you forget about it,” Quentin says, as the group laugh.
Although this hospo supergroup could easily copy the backbones of Herringbone, they assure CityMag that Trak is a brand-new offering, as Ben hopes their regulars get a “totally different experience”.
“We’ve sort of developed a menu over five years that changes with the seasons… that’s what people come to expect [at Herringbone],” Quentin says.
“Trak’s difference is that there’s a whole range of techniques and flavours that if I started introducing that to the menu [at Herringbone], it would feel like a different restaurant.”
“We didn’t want to just open up Herringbone 2.0.”
These distinct differences include their version of low-key luxury and are evident in Trak’s food offerings.
“It was important for us to polarise what we’re doing in Halifax Street,” Quentin says.
“Herringbone’s approach to food is quite rustic, but elegant. I think we’re doing something that’s a little bit more contemporary, but also still pretty down-to-earth at the same time.
“People can still expect the same sort of quality that they would expect from any of our venues: of course, things are made in-house, of course things are made daily, of course things are sourced locally, of course things acquired in the best possible manner.”
The à la carte menu showcases a range of Mediterranean flavours, with specific nods to Italian cuisine.
Quentin’s proudest dish is the chargrilled occy, which is pictured above, as it “really comes together, it’s quite rigid and a little bit more well thought out”.
“You’ve got cannellini bean that’s been whipped at high temperature, so it’s like super velvety and light,” Quentin says.
“With light braised bitter greens… and a charred tomato vinaigrette so it’s like blistered tomatoes, smoked Chipotle, coriander, lemon, olive oil.
“Then just that chargrilled octopus which has just been lightly braised [and] sliced up.”
The other anticipated menu items include a spaghetti vongole with chilli and white wine, and crumbed pork fillet cottoletta with anchovies and cucumber pickle.
“I think that if you just ignore all those other flavours of spice and acid and complexity, for me, that’s sort of what makes a restaurant exciting — that sort of energy on the plate,” Quentin says.
“We don’t know what they’re doing. We only really know what we’re doing,” Quentin says.
“We just try and focus on our space, focus on the people that come in [and] look after every diner one by one.
“It’s a collaborative effort… it’s definitely very team orientated and I think that’s what has made our other restaurants super popular.”
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Like the food and ethos behind Trak, the interiors are also comforting and welcoming, with burgundies and warm undertones scattered throughout. It also mirrors its predecessor, which was the Trak Cinema Centre.
“We’re going back to low-key luxury,” Ben says.
“It feels quite warm and cosy in here, and then we’ve also got outside dining for the nice of months of the year.
“We just went what we thought was… ideally ageless. We’ll be here for a long time, and [didn’t want to] look like it’s on trend for the moment and just be ageless with the restaurant.”
With Burnside’s expanded complex set to open in 2025, the trio hope that by being directly across from the village will bring more foot traffic.
“This opportunity came up, we sort of sat down, talked about it for a long time and thought you know what, why not?” Ben says.
“Obviously, there’s a big construction going on over the road, which we think will be good in time once that gets up and running — we think will be a positive.”
Trak is slated to open on 10 October and is located at 375 Greenhill Road, Toorak Gardens.