There are few things I love more than a fantastic new food experience, much like the excitement of a great first date you are left with delicious memories, you want to brag to everyone you meet (though unlike a date you recommend the restaurant to all) and you can’t wait for the next experience.

That is exactly how I would describe my very delicious evening at the brand new must try Melbourne restaurant LOTI.

LOTI has opened its doors in the seaside suburb of St Kilda, celebrating the best of Australia’s own coastal surroundings infused with Mediterranean influence and an atmosphere of relaxed luxury and local community that is distinctly Melbourne.

The seaside neighbourhood local at the base of St Kilda’s new Saint Moritz precinct, is the perfect place for a quiet cocktail overlooking the waves or destination dining for locals and visitors, friends and family. In a nod to the sentimentality of the past, LOTI’s name, Lady of the Ice pays homage to the heritage and community of the Saint Moritz area.

Glance at the kitchen to find Head Chef Elijah Holland (Lume, NOMA Australia, Aria, Quay) behind the flame bringing his own artful interpretation of food cooked over fire, striving to make everything from scratch and using ancient techniques of fermentation, preserving, curing and serving food in the freshest and purest form. LOTI’s menu shares space with an equally crafted drinks list curated in collaboration with World Class Bartenders from Sweet&Chilli, overseen by co-owner Cameron Northway.

I had the absolutely please of sitting down with Cameron and Elijah to talk all things food, inspiration and the birth of their new and delicious venture.

Congratulations on the opening of Loti! You must be so excited to finally open the doors. How did the idea for the restaurant arise?

Thank you, Liz! We’re so grateful that you were able to come and visit LOTI and experience the restaurant and bar. We’re so excited for LOTI to be finally open and for guests to finally see, taste and feel what we’ve all been working so hard on.

The idea for the restaurant was inspired by my travels throughout the Mediterranean. I’ve always respected Elijah Holland’s cooking, and came to him with the concept for LOTI. He then developed the style of dishes and food, taking inspiration from nature and the coast.

What does LOTI stand for?

LOTI stands for ‘Lady Of The Ice’.

In a nod to the sentimentality of the past, LOTI’s name pays homage to its rich heritage and community of the Saint Moritz area, which used to be an ice skating rink.

Elijah, How would you describe the menu?

The menu is inspired by nature and the coast – the history of St Kilda, the oceans and surrounding terrier, utilising local, wild, native and naturalised botanicals, paired with beautiful produce from local farmers and suppliers from around Australia. There is an emphasis on food cooked over fire, and I strive to make everything from scratch using ancient techniques of fermentation, preserving, curing and serving food in the freshest and purest form.”

“Everything we use is about trying to use products and ingredients that are completely sustainable – and also seen through our foraging and collecting of local ingredients. We collect our produce from different areas, to limit the impact on the environment. Even if produce grows closer around St Kilda, Brighton and Elwood – we’ll go out along the coast and spread out where we take it from, so it can continue to grow for years to come. We also try to source from smaller farmers if possible, to lower our carbon footprint and environmental impact.

What is the ‘must try’ dish for anyone who visits?

The ice rink. The ice rink ceviche dish is inspired by the heritage of LOTI, or ‘Lady Of The Ice’, which used to be an ice skating rink. This dish is also a play on a Spanish style of ceviche found in the Catalonia region, in North-Eastern Spain. For our dish we use a red emperor fish from northern NSW and southern Queensland.

We dice the fish, curing and cooking it in blood lime, desert lime and finger lime juice and balance it with palm sugar, as well as a fish stock made from the bones of the fish, which is also lightly perfumed with coriander. We then add wild garlic leaves, karkalla, which is a salty succulent from the coast, marsh saltbush, smoked and dried olives which gives the dish a light aroma and smokiness.

It’s topped with coastal flowers such as sea cabbage, beach mustard and wild garlic flowers. A frozen dish of ice is placed on top, which is made from the ceviche sauce. We put nitro over it so the ice looks nice and mysterious. It comes to the table where a guest will crack the ice, and a sauce of roasted red capsicum oil and house pressed oil is poured on top to add some fat and extra depth. Chives to finish.

Also the magnum!

3 words to describe the vibe?

Coastal, relaxed and local.