The Town Mouse is closing – with a bang

Author: Emma Breheny
Photography: Kris Paulson

The Melbourne institution is letting us down gently with BYO Sundays, lunch by Thi Le and a cellar clear out.

After five years, Carlton restaurant The Town Mouse will pour its last glass of natural wine this March. But it's not departing without a six-week coda of guest chef appearances, tasting menus featuring signature dishes and a deep-dive of the restaurant's cellar. Co-owner Christian McCabe, also a co-owner of Melbourne CBD wine bar Embla, made the decision to sell the restaurant with his partners, sister Amber McCabe and brother-in-law Jay Comeskey, to make more time for other professional projects and family commitments.

"I think five years is a pretty good lifespan in the current climate," McCabe says. "It's nice to see the restaurant out in a good way."

Going out on a high note, chef Dave Verheul (who also runs the Embla kitchen) will introduce a four-course greatest hits tasting menu on 1 February with the 'Caprese' of tofu curd, kombu and tomato, and the lemon and yuzu curd dessert likely to be in the mix. Sundays will be dialled back to a more relaxed three-course lunch, with Thi Le (a Mouse alumna who now runs her own show at Anchovy) and Charley Snadden-Wilson (Embla's current sous-chef) taking the reins for one week each.

On Sundays there's also the option to BYO, but with McCabe opening up the collection in the cellar (which includes five years' worth of grower wines), you'd be crazy not to take advantage.

No buyer has been named for the site, but McCabe and co expect the restaurant's last service to fall somewhere in the first two weeks of March. Meanwhile all eyes are on the space above Embla, where McCabe and Verheul are set to open a new restaurant later this year.

The Town Mouse, 312 Drummond St, Carlton, Vic, (03) 9347 3312, Dinner Thu-Mon, 6pm-midnight, lunch Sun, noon-midnight.

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