Merivale starts repositioning The Whale Inn

Julian May and Elsa Marie will open a paddock-to-plate pop-up bistro at Narooma’s The Whale Inn.

Merivale has begun repositioning Narooma’s The Whale Inn – starting with calling in French-Australian couple Julian May and Elsa Marie to operate a high-end paddock-to-plate pop up bistro.

The couple, who since January have been operating a private dining business, Chez Dominique, will take up residence at the Wagonga Street venue for at least a couple of months.

The chefs last operated a restaurant, La Vierge, two years ago, in Paris’ 20th arrondissement.

In the decade prior, the pair also ran Septime – again in Paris – and Saint Eutrope, 400 kilometres away at Clermont Ferrand.

Outside of France, their eateries include Brawn (London) and 10 William (Sydney).

The Whale Inn bistro will utilise local farms for vegetables, herbs, meat and dairy.

Its seafood selection will also be sourced from Narooma.

“We have fallen in love with all of the incredible ingredients the Eurobadalla Shire has to offer,” the pair said (story continues below).

“We have a strong passion for local, high-quality, sustainable produce and wine and can’t wait to share our cooking with the local community”.

Chef Dominique is based at Moruya.

Merivale acquired The Whale Inn last month; a company spokesperson said the accommodation will remain open while “plans for the evolution of the property” are prepared.

The hospitality giant, led by Justin Hemmes, purchased the region’s Quarterdeck in March.

A month later the company snapped up its first Melbourne property – Tomasetti House in Flinders Lane – for a venue.

Six weeks ago Merivale paid $13.5m for the ex-Cheeky Monkey’s bar and backpackers – entering the Byron Bay market.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of