Updated: Mar 18
Built in the heights of Western Australia’s Gold Rush circa 1897, The Palace Hotel, while once described as the most opulent in Australiasia, sat abandoned on the busiest corner of Perth’s central business district for over 30 years. It has been revived as the latest venture for leading Australian steakhouse, The Meat & Wine Co.
Having lived life as a grand hotel, followed by a period as a corporate bank building, the Palace Hotel presented The Meat & Wine Co. architect Callie Van Der Merwe the unusual challenge to fuse a sparse Banking Hall and adjoining Federation Free Classical Hall to create one cohesive restaurant.
“It would have been a mistake to make bedfellows of the two styles. To this end it was decided to turn up the volume on the African heritage in the front old Banking Hall only, where hardly any architectural merit remained and to settle on a gentle intervention in the Classical Hall,” Callie says.
To main simplicity and compliment, not compete with the detailed ornamental architraves, arches and cornices, the furnishings of the Classical Hall take a neutral palate. Pared-back banquette restaurant furniture features, with lighting and elegant woven rope, used to create a cocooned feel for each table, despite the open-plan layout.
The front Banking Hall is where The Meat & Wine Co’s handmade African heritage shines in full with eclectic interiors incorporating custom furniture and joinery sourced from around the world. Stools are made from wine vats while striking Abacus inspired dividers separate dining booths to optimise the social ambience and the interplay of artificial and dappled natural light from the street.
The clever use of lighting and layering runs throughout to create a unique ambience, balancing bustling restaurant and diner privacy.
“A great restaurant design understands the fundamental truth that people ignore design that ignores people. People also activate people, and people will always look at people before they look at things. The way the space is therefore lit and how this makes one look and feel cannot be overstated. Always soft but never dark. To this end, great design is often silent design. It’s more about what you can’t see as opposed to what you can,” Callie explains.
Rope and woven fabric bring the spaces together, along with a screen separating the back and front of house that runs the entire length of the venue – Callie’s personal favourite element.
The Meat & Wine Co Perth adds to the group’s growing national portfolio which includes iconic sites in Sydney’s Circular Quay and Barangaroo and Melbourne’s Southbank.
Original Imagery by WADES.