Optic Kitchen and Bar
Disclaimer: I did not pay for my meal at Optic. Peter Rowland Catering invited me to try the offering and report back. Later, I worked with Peter Rowland for about a year. The opinions below are based solely on my experience at the time of my visit, whether they like it or not.
Address: Level 1 ACMI, Federation Square, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 8663 2277
Open: Monday to Tuesday, Sunday, 8.30am until 6pm
Wednesday to Sunday, 8.30am until 10pm
This year, the airport-esque ACMI Lounge in Fed Square was evicted to make way for Optic Kitchen and Bar. Good riddance, I say. The garish geometric orange and yellow furniture has been replaced with dark green leather booths, raised seats, colourful couch chairs, and outside perches that are perfect for people watching.
Optic has a distinctively ‘international’ feel and it reminded me of my time backpacking through Europe. Although it may appal foodies (sorry, foodists) it will appeal to travellers due to it's variety, and there are plenty of tourists frolicking in Federation Square. Optic is also kid friendly (there’s a menu for the youngsters), and an affordable lunch or dinner option for those who find themselves in the CBD.
From the red mailbox ashtrays outside and the massive glass display cabinet full of charcuterie inside, to the patterned carpet, tiles and timber, there’s a lot going on at Optic. If it’s all too much for your eyes, focus on the menu.
So hungry you could eat Godzilla? Order from the ‘majors’ section of the menu. I went for the grilled chicken burger, a beast of a thing packed with flavour as well as Asian slaw, cucumber, tomato and home style sweet chilli sauce. It was sandwiched between the bun of the moment – brioche – with a side of fat chips in a red pot.
My partner in dine ordered the local flathead tails, which arrived lightly battered with fat chips, salad, and a citrus mayo. The verdict? “You can tell it’s really fresh,” although I barely caught that sentence as it was muffled by a serious mouthful. There are also ‘minis’ for the not-so-hungry, like the green pea risotto with mint, Persian feta, pangratto and extra virgin olive oil, as well as ‘minors’, described as “mouthfuls or to share”. These would be perfect for nibbles before or after catching a flick at ACMI.
I’ll be back to get my mouth around the soft shell crab taquitos with avocado and chipotle, as well as the southern style sticky chicken wings with blue cheese dipping sauce. I'm sure I'd manage to wash it all down with a glass of wine or two from the drinks list, or maybe a cider on tap. Oh, behave!
It’s not often that you find an eatery that marries convenience with quality. Thankfully, Optic Kitchen and Bar has managed to do just that, despite the garish interior, in one of the busiest spots in Melbourne. More power to them.