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Lunch at Messer Restaurant in Fitzroy

Messer restaurant has launched in Gertrude St Fitzroy as a unique offering in terms of Melbourne dining, with The World Loves Melbourne catching up with co-owner and chef Ashley Davis. Fine dining at affordable prices is a hot topic and Ashley Davis delivers in spades. He draws inspiration from his trips to Europe and in particular Spain. The concept of a restaurant for the people resonates; you can come for a simple grazing experience with house wine or go big with an 8 course degustation, the choice is yours!

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Walking into Messer off trendy Gertrude St, you are struck by the fine modern fit out; open and uncluttered with a touch of class. This is modern dining at its best. Speaking with Ashley Davis, the history and standing of Gertrude St dining is on his mind and he is aiming to deliver something that complements and adds to the scene. "Yes this is a fine dining restaurant, but also accessible and we are sensitive to affordability," said Ashley Davis. The World Loves Melbourne found the menu here to be diverse and interesting, standing out from a crowd where several restaurants try and copy each other with a result of "sameness".

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Ashley Davis has entrenched himself as an iconic Australian chef at Pure South then launched out with his own (co-owner) Copper Pot in Seddon and now with his second European style expression Messer. "When I was in Europe I was able to glean and have brought some of the ideas from visiting these restaurants and bars to Messer."

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An impressive start to our lunch with chic aperitifs bringing a twist on the Spritz (including Australian ingredients).

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Simple and delicious starter of House made bread with Stracciatelle, black olive, crispy herbs hit the spot. Mop it all up with the bread for convivial dining.

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Messer showcases a different, 'lighter' inspired style of dining than what comes to mind for most when thinking of European cuisine. Hero vegetables and bright, meal-worthy salads feature on the menu as prominently as charcuterie, seafoods and meats.

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Intricate mouth watering salads were on display on the kitchen counter.

As we spoke with ashley Davis he explained Messer is for workman and corporates simultaneously, rather like many restaurants you will see in Spain. Ashley tells us about a customer near us who simply orders a selection of salads with bread then a dessert, washed down with house wine - this is the beauty of Messer. While another table opts for a larger selection of mains for an expansive lunch.

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Messer has a European influence but with an Aussie and local touch.

What also strikes us is the prices - this is quality cuisine with technique served at reasonable prices. In a highly competitive dining precinct we think Messer is great value for money. Even unique in Melbourne. A "del dia" Spanish concept of fixed price course appeals, especially when adding a dessert to the already resonably priced two course option is only another $4.

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A warm and stylish fit out with views of eclectic Gertrude Street is appealing. Service is outstanding with a rock star team including gun head chef Sascha Rust, sous chef Gemma Calleja, Kelly Woodliffe on the floor, Wiremu Andrews and Travis Cosgrove.

Or enjoy views of the laneway and Fitzroy street art.

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Compelling flavours and textures with a Duck Creme Brûlée being a highlight. Rich creamy and indulgent - once again mop up with bread.

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Not to mention the delicate Smoked trout "sandwich" with dash of caviar/roe using the skin, flesh and roe of the salmon. Crunchy, creamy and smoky. 

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The Duck creme brûlée is something else. A savoury brûlée is something we don't always see but we are hooked. Quality ducks are supplied by Great Ocean Ducks.

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Enjoyed this rustic dish of Wood fired potato and onion flatbread with speck. Pizza in the Alsatian style. This is the kind of dining we love with the ability to graze experiencing various European flavours. You can share some dishes but also the menu is designed for you to choose your own and not share at all. As we mentioned, flexibility, approachability and affordability.

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Funky affordable wines.

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A must order is the Duck cottage pie. Delve into the creamy crust to a world of perfectly cooked duck and a compelling sauce/broth. 

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Duck paired with a Cauliflower and almond salad was outstanding rewarding dining. Heroing local produce at its finest.

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Buttermilk panna cotta was a highlight with verjuice caramel, crisp rice. Gemma Calleja as sous chef brings a strong dessert and pastry game having worked at Quay and Bentley in Sydney and Lune Croissanterie in Melbourne.

Lemon Bundt Cake was another must-order and we were able to take some home.

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Ashley Davis has another hit on his hands and a pointer to the evolving of modern dining. He pulls off the claim of fine dining at affordable prices. Highly recommended.