As the industrial world searched for sustainable, affordable building supplies, along came the idea to repurpose shipping containers into property dwellings.
Shopping containers have become the latest low cost solution to fill in the eco building gap, by repurposing large steel boxes into quick and in many ways stylish new homes.
Housing aside, shipping containers, it seems, can be reworked into many other building frames, such as pop-up bars and even restaurants, demonstrated in Channel 7's new TV show; Restaurant Revolution.
For those unaware of Channel 7's newest reality TV project, Restaurant Revolution follows 5 restauranteurs in 5 states (QLD, SA, VIC, NSW and WA) as they build a restaurant business inside a temporary shipping container.
Each 'Restaurant Revo' team must pick their own name, style, branding and interior, as well as recruit staff members to join the crew. At the beginning of the show, each team had to pitch their ideas to the judging panel.
All Restaurant Revolution's opened to the public on Tuesday 14 July for both lunch and dinner, and week every restaurant is critiqued and judged on food, service and atmosphere. Profits are taken into consideration with the combined judged scores, which then determines the overall state winner of the show, who gets to walk away with $200,000 to invest in a restaurant business of their own. All Restaurant Revolution businesses are then removed as quickly as their arrival time (less than 2 weeks), at this point that date is unknown, but likely to be September.
Melbourne's Italian themed pop-up is called Scarfo Restaurant, managed by Nathan, a qualified Chef and his partner Maz, with a background in marketing.
Walking into Scarfo Restaurant and you will be warmly welcomed by Maz, as she guides you to your table in a surprisingly large and airey space. Although hard to decorate the interior of a steel box, the Melbourne duo have worked well to present a cheerfully painted wall by a local Melbourne artist, and a touch of greenery with a wall covered in decorative plants.
There is a lot to be said for well-mannered, multi-national serving staff at Scarfo Restaurant, all of who appear to genuinely enjoy their short-lived roles and do their utmost to ensure you are looked after.
Menu choices are interesting, varied and incorporate local produce; vegetarians are catered for, as are gluten intolerant folk. Although a children's menu is not presented, little people and prams are absolutely welcome in Scarfo, and child-friendly eating options are discussed with parents.
Small bite (entrée) choices include five choices such as the delicious heirloom beetroot salad served with goats cheese and candied walnuts, and the Marsala lamb short ribs infused with rosemary oil and sprinkled with crushed pistachio.
Choose from one of seven main courses, such as the Lakes Entrance flat head fillets on a bed of zucchini, Sicilian caponata and crostini, or the Clover Valley Angus porterhouse 350g served with tarragon mustard. Select a delicious side to accompany your main meal; the triple-cooked kipfler potatoes with marjoram and pecorino would be a wise choice.
Desserts are far from your stereotypical Italian treat, think not gelato and tiramisu, but instead a not-too-sweet coconut panna cotta with crystallised mint and blueberries, or a wild strawberry parfait with vanilla ice-cream and delicious hot chocolate pouring sauce.
With such a short space of time in which to enjoy St Kilda's newest eatery, do take the time to try out Scarfo Pop-Up Restaurant for yourself. The specialist container restaurant requires no bookings, simply turn up and wait to be seated. Scarfo is strictly BYO, so do yourself a favour and stop by your nearest bottle shop on the way. Follow Scarfo Restaurant on Facebook for all the latest news.
TOP TIP #1: Friday evening appears to be the night to avoid queues, and Friday also happens to be free corkage all day.
TOP TIP #2: Remember to smile - you are on camera!