Written for Broadsheet

Museums, New York bistros and dishes from the American South are all part of the inspiration for Morgan McGlone’s new 350-seat restaurant in Melbourne’s CBD.

Due to open in February next year, Natural History will be a collaboration between McGlone and the 100 Burgers group (which owns McGlone-founded Belle’s Hot Chicken, as well as Mister Burger and Welcome to Thornbury), and publican-design duo Jaime Wirth and Michael Delany.

“[It’s] based on the Natural History Museum in London or New York, which I’ve always found really magical,” Michael Delany tells Broadsheet.

The venue, which will be located at 401 Collins Street, will be split into two distinct spaces: the Natural History Bar and Grill, and the Natural History Cafe.

A bustling American diner inspires the latter.

“It [will have] a train station atmosphere, a public sort of space,” Delany says. “It’s almost like a foyer, so we’ve sort of gone with that rather than trying to combat it.

“We’ve tried to make it feel like it’s been there a long time, not by ageing things but by the choice of materials.”

The cafe will serve doughnuts from Donut Shop FitzroyLune croissants; toasties; rolls filled with porchetta and salsa verde; bagels; grab-and-go salads; sandwiches; and charcuterie by Meatsmith.

“[We want a] roll in one hand, Peroni in the other hand,” says McGlone.

In the late afternoon the space will transform into a natural wine and aperitivo bar.

“[There will be] less cooked food more cured meats and pickled vegetables,” says Delany. “It’s like somewhere where suits will go during the day and then it will change gears in the afternoon. We’ve got Animals Dancing curating the music and DJing in there as well.”

Inside the restaurant expect comfy booths, red-checkered marmoleum floors, vintage bathroom tiles from the ’60s and a 19th-century stained-glass feature. An island bar will feature studded upholstery, and artist Vanja Zaric is creating a wall-spanning artwork that’s part mural, part diorama, with taxidermy foxes, mountain goats and white peacocks.

“The style of food is quintessential American bar and grill but done in a modern-Australian style,” McGlone says of the menu.

“We’ve got a cheeseburger homage to Mr Burger … The beef will be our own blend of intercostal chuck steak and brisket.”

There’ll be a Louisiana-style fish sandwich, five different steaks – including a kilogram T-bone – as well as pasta and a variety of vegetarian dishes.

“We’re working with a few farms directly … a couple out in Geelong and some out in Yarragon and the Gippsland area,” McGlone says.

The wine list will run about 45 to 50 per cent natural, and there’ll be a focus on Eastern European spirits.

“We want to make it somewhere where the food’s really good but you can [still] stand on the table and drink out of the bottle as well,” Delany says.

Natural History will be open Monday to Saturday from 7am to late. It will open in February 2018.