The Advocate(03) 9041 3115 opened its doors at 431B Whitehorse Road, Balwyn on Friday 5 July 2019. This is Founder, Designer & Decorator Jane Gorman's second bespoke restaurant and cocktail bar. A single mother of three adult children, this one is dedicated to her youngest son Christian who completes his Law Degree in October this year. Hence it has been inspired by the English Common Law Legal System and decorated by Jane herself.
The restaurant is open from 5pm till late on Tuesdays, 12pm till late from Wednesdays to Sundays and closed on Mondays. Bookings are recommended but not required. Call them directly or book online.
The Advocate fills a niche which Jane felt was lacking in her local area. A luxury space to entertain family and friends. Travelling extensively in her profession as a designer and decorator, Jane has taken a leaf out of America and Canada where the majority of restaurants also accommodate cocktail bars. She also wanted to change the culture whereby women especially could go out to a bar and feel safe in lovely surrounds.
Perhaps my most favourite adoption are the high seats like they have in the US & Canada that runs along the wall opposite the bar. For once I didn't need to scoot down or struggle up from a low seat. This restaurant has been thoughtfully decked out with foot rails to rest your feet on, when sitting on these higher seats. Lean back in luxury on the padded backrest covered with fabric from Scotland. When sitting at the bar, you'll find hooks running along the length of it under the counter, so women can conveniently hang their handbags off it.
Jane has sourced her materials from all over the world. The carpet tiles are from Japan where she managed to find just the right shade she wanted. She's designed the chairs and couches herself and had them locally made. The lamps along the bar are battery-operated, have black French pleats and are custom made in London. The two televisions behind and flanking the bar are mirrored TVs. Once it's off, you'd never know they were there as they appear to be just a mirror. In the middle is a painting of Jane and her son Christian, a work still in progress, with local artist Lauren Elise coming in to complete it in stages.
Separating the bar area from the more private dining area away from the bar crowd are beaded curtains for that touch of bling. As you head further back down the restaurant, adorning the walls are wallpaper from Osbourne & Little in London, with 1940s doors from a house in Brighton. The back wall houses a display of an array of decanters; a quirky nod to her grandmother's influence who had said decanters displayed. Jane decorates with a passion and sees each venue she decorates as a huge showroom that showcases and displays her prowess in her profession. She already has grand decorating plans for the other restaurants to follow over the next few years, dedicated to her two other children.
First on the list will be Finch & Jane which will open late next year in Hawthorn, and be decorated in navy, with gold and silver bling. It will also have a tapas bar menu similar to The Advocate. As Jane's eldest son is a diplomat, Embassy Grounds will be sporting Aussie colours of green and gold in emerald green and gold and silver and serving Australian food in Armadale. The menu has already been thought out. Jane's daughter, the middle child has a Science Degree and the restaurant planned for Brighton will have a Heston Blumenthal concept menu with elementary tables and tiffany colours.
Jane's dedication and passion for all that she does is effervescent and contagious. Listening to her you can't help but be excited about her future projects and plans. Her passion for food, wining and dining has spawned an amazing venue influenced by all her travels around the globe. She has set out to create a space that is luxurious yet affordable, that sources and heroes local produce.
She's not done with The Advocate just yet, as Christian her son who was at the restaurant today, keeps busy before his exams, decking out The Library. This will be the new function space at the far back end/courtyard of the restaurant. It's going to have a sea of green with clear motorised blinds that'll keep the wind out and fairy lights adding to the ambiance. There's a timeline on completing this project as there are already bookings on the 12th of October with birthdays and Oaks Day celebrations coming up.
The staff on board today were amazing and attentive without being intrusive. Emily the waitress has been there just three weeks and already works the room like a pro, adding a friendly, welcoming touch to the place. Ben the Bar and Restaurant Manager and budding writer, director and film maker has the ability to wear different hats with ease as he migrates between bar and restaurant duties as well as being the barista when called for. Mocktails are also served here but no specific recipe exists. Just tell Ben what you like and he'll create it for you.
Not an alcohol drinker, Ben created me a mocktail of berries mixed with a touch of lemonade, cranberry juice and muddled strawberries and raspberries to enhance the taste. I did say I wasn't a drinker and had it explained to me that a muddler was a bartender's tool much like a long luxurious gold pestle used to mash or muddle fruits, herbs and spices in the bottom of a glass to release their flavour. You learn something new every day.
I can tell you straight up, there's magic in them their kitchen! Head Chef Tim Malligan has worked extensively with well-established restaurant groups and understands the process in crafting a unique menu. He's been nominated for 1 hat with the Australian Good Food Guide with results to follow. He'll take you on a culinary journey made from the best local produce Victoria has to offer.
The focal point of the food menu is that it's designed to complement the drinks menu. There's a variety of drinks to suit your every mood. Available are Cocktails, Sparkling Wine, Champagne, Rosé, Prosecco, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Chianti, Merlot, Montepulciano, GSM, Tempranillo, Grenache, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gin, Tap Beer, Bottled Beer, Beer & Cider, Spirits, Whiskey, Liqueurs, non-alcoholic beverages, Mocktails and tea and coffee.
I filled myself with exquisite, delicious food that was my breakfast, lunch and dinner all rolled into one. I skipped breakfast so I could truly appreciate the great food and later was too full to have dinner. For entrée, I had Braised Beef Intercostal Pinchos, Pedro Ximenes, Beetroot, Elk . It was melt in your mouth delicious with the beef having just the right amount of fat content that made it moist and tender. I thoroughly enjoyed a small plate of Charred Harissa Octopus, Herb Emulsion, Green Elk. Seafood is a delicate balance of not overcooking it as it toughens easily. This was cooked to perfection.
The large plate was one of Barramundi, Baby Leek, Barley, Garlic, Coriander with flesh so soft and moist, topped by perfectly crispy skin. The only thing I couldn't digest was the cooked baby leek as they didn't break down easily, stayed stringy and kept getting caught up in my teeth. A small sacrifice for what felt like an amazing banquet of perfectly cooked food
Dessert was Baked Ricotta, Pistachio, Rhubarb & Raspberry. Add to that the mocktail and a cup of coffee and I was filling up fast but determined to enjoy that work of art on a plate. Being ricotta, it wasn't overly sweet and it was nutty with crumbs of pistachio sprinkled through it. I definitely enjoyed my culinary journey that took me away to the land of ummms and mmmms as sounds of satisfaction escaped my lips with every delicious mouthful.
There's so much more to go back and try and luxuriate in, because we all deserve to treat ourselves and because you're worth it to coin a phrase/slogan by L'Oréal.
There are Warm marinated mixed olives, Chickpea chips, Chorizo croquettes, Pulled pork sliders, Duck confit, Foi gras parfait, Natural oysters, local and imported Cheese selection and Rhubarb compote for something with a drink.
In the small plates, your other choices include Caramelised fig, Goats curd, Seasonal vegetable salad, Seared beef, and Kingfish. The large plates also serve up Gnocchi, Pork belly, Beef rump, Chicken ballotine and Baked brie.
You can also add sides of Brown butter pumpkin with goats cheese, Broccolini & salted ricotta, Brussel sprouts, and Duck fat baby potatoes. Dessert has two other options with Chocolate and salted caramel and Pink peppercorn, Wattleseed Fromage Frais, Watermelon.
I'd definitely recommend a fun gathering at The Advocate with family and friends, a girly night out or for a special occasion. They'll be launching their new Spring/summer Menu along with another new cocktail on October 3rd so visit them soon to taste the current menu, then go back to try the new. Situated in a popular mainstream strip of Balwyn, there's one hour street parking out front, and lots more parking at the back of the restaurant, accessed via a service road.
Stay in touch and updated via their Facebook page and give them a call for your next function. They'll accomodate you with a configuration that suits your event. If a need for interior decorating crops up, well, you know who to call.