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Free! Free at Last! Robata fire up the Japanese Grill

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From left to right; Robata Sous Chef – Yosuke Furukawa, Robata Head Chef – Stephen Clark, Robata Chef – Chris Smith and Robata Chef – Umji Hwang

There’s only one upside to long and gruelling lockdowns… and that’s the end. Melbourne have joined Sydney in the official reopening of the hospitality industry last Friday October 22nd. Venue owners and patrons alike rejoiced as we saw Melbourne’s vibrant hospitality scene come alive with restaurants, cafes and bars over-flowing, with patrons scrambling to get a booking over the weekend. Melbournians were only too happy to put away the tracksuit pants and trainers and get dressed up and pop on a bit of lippie, even if it was mostly hidden behind a mask.

While we are seeing a staggered start for many Melbourne venues, we wanted to pay homage today to our good friends at The San Telmo Group, ahead of what we can only hope is a record-breaking and well deserved belter Summer for the Melbourne hospitality scene.

The San Telmo Group exist for a love of South American food and lifestyle, beginning back in 2011 with their first venue San Telmo, which has become famous for its Argentinian chargrilled menu that boasts a premium O’Connor Beef selection with at least five steaks on the menu, alongside chicken, lamb and fish. Over the past decade the team have been busy and have enjoyed a steady stream of success stories with sister restaurants PalermoAsadoPastuso, and now the newest vibrant addition to the family, Robata – powered by Impos.

Robata is a Japanese Grill with the name Robata coming from ancient Japanese grilling method ‘Robatayaki’ which directly translates as “fireside cooking” – they provide an interpretation of this style of cooking, informed by their own expertise and experience travelling and eating in Japan. The kitchen is embracing the art of charcoal grilling with as much enthusiasm as the rest of its stable, but Japanese techniques and traditions are clearly at the forefront here. A custom-built robatayaki grill sits centre stage in Robata’s kitchen, and mindful produce selection remains at the forefront of the menu.

They had a couple of false starts thanks to Covid with the original opening pushed back, only to open briefly late July before Melbourne was again shut down without notice a mere week later. The team adapted as best they could with Robata at Home but it was a giant blow to the team that had worked so hard to open. As anyone in hospitality will tell you, opening up a new restaurant is akin to birthing your first-born.

“Well, we were looking like the shortest restaurant life span of all time after 1 week of restricted trade, so we’re jumping out of our skin to open up, to say we’re excited is an understatement!” says Jason McConnell, Co-Owner of Robata, The San Telmo Group.

The venue itself is a stylish neon-dressed space, plucked from the streetscapes of Tokyo located in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD at 2 Exhibition Street. Diners can expect a classic yakitori and kushiyaki menu brimming with familiar favourites such as chicken thigh with tare, tsukune with egg yolk, Wagyu beef, Skull Island prawns and pork belly with yuzu kosho. Vegetarians are welcome with mouth-watering options including turnip with nori salad and shitake mushroom cooked on custom-built robatayaki grills. Fresh sashimi, nigiri, pork katsu and select cuts of premium beef are also on offer. Their drinks menu is also impressive with a well thought out selection of authentic Japanese beer, whisky, liqueurs and cocktails.

For anyone interested in joining the Robata team of passionate, hard-working and dedicated team, they are scouting for a mix of casual and fulltime employment for the following positions.

  • Host – Casual / part-times
  • Bartenders – Casual / full-time
  • Restaurant Supervisor/ full time
  • Cook, Commis Chefs and Chef De Parties / full time

To apply, please visit their careers page

For now, we bid the entire San Telmo Group every success, especially with their new baby, Robata! Get booking Melbourne. We might see you there for a sake or 3!

Robata open now — Asado open now — San Telmo reopening 26th October 5pm — Pastuso reopening 11th Nov 5pm