Pontoon, the seafront venue on the ground floor of Stokehouse, will soon be relaunched as Stokehouse Pasta & Bar, a year-round offering for casual coastal dining.
“We are uniting two teams under the Stokehouse banner to create one strong team,” said Chief Executive Jason Staudt. “It’s the return to simple hospitality with correct, good, generous and honest food.”
That could mean crab and chili spaghetti, cacio e pepe gnocchi, or whole Murray cod with peperonata and fries. For dessert, there will be sundaes and an Alaska bomb with tiramisu flavors. A softer, simpler cut will enhance the laid-back vibe.
Prior to the 2014 fire which saw the entire building razed and rebuilt, the lower part of the building was Stokehouse Cafe.
Managing director Hugh van Haandel, son of owner Frank van Haandel, remembers it fondly. “I had my fourth birthday and my eighth birthday there,” he says. “It was a place where you could dine, the kids could disappear to play on the beach and come back.”
It’s that kind of laid-back family restaurant that he hopes to bring back to St Kilda.
Pontoon launched with the rebuilt Stokehouse in 2016. With its 350-person capacity and frosé (frozen rosé) on tap, it was a summer-ready beach party.
“We got a bit lost with Pontoon,” says van Haandel. “It was a beach club and beach bar but the crowd was fickle, the model got lost, it was a bit flashy. It wasn’t about friends and family. It’s a Bit lost in restaurants these days and it seems necessary in St Kilda.We can’t wait to bring it back.
Open daily from noon to late from mid-November.
30 Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda, 03 9525 5555, stokehouse.com.au