Spotlight on Green Light

Photo: Anthony Simioni

Green Light Diner is a recent addition to Melbourne’s food scene, offering an all-day diner to the ol’ Flinders Street Station. What was once Clocks pokies joint is now reminiscent of a 1920s train carrying you through delicious Melbourne grub.

We met ‘under the clocks’ with the man behind it all, Darran Smith, to pick his brain about Green Light and what’s going on in this diner meets pokies meets soon-to-be underground whisky bar.

What is your background in the industry?
When I first watched the movie ‘The Concierge’ with Michael J Fox, I looked at him and wanted to be that guy. I left high school and did a hotel traineeship with the Sheraton. Then I studied in Brisbane and was sent to Port Douglas Sheraton Mirage.

I ended up hating carrying bags, so they put me in Food and Beverage. I was then placed in the fine dining restaurant Macrossans at 18, doing flambés and silver service at tables.

After that, I moved to Sydney to work with Luke Mangan for six and a half years opening Salt and Glass. My next move was to Icebergs to run that and work under Maurice Terzini, who is the best in the business – he is the Jedi of the restaurant world. Under him, I learned the importance of the customer and it was the most defying moment of my career. I have a lot to thank him for.

After that, I did stints in Canada and London, as well as looking after Sushi E and Hemisphere, before coming to Melbourne to open the Astor and Roving Marrow.

How did the Green Light come to life? Why did you choose this space?

It was offered to my business partner, who approached me to become involved. We both knew it was in a great position and, after looking at the plans and meeting with Doxa (the charity organisation that owns Clocks), we decided to go ahead.

The station has so much history and is an iconic building. It is great to be involved in the redevelopment of the station. Every city has great dining experiences in train stations, and I really wanted this to become one of them.

What's your personal standout dish on the menu?

I actually have two standout dishes. The first is the Good Morning, which is a take on the eggslut in LA, and the second is the Salted Beef Bagel from Brick Lane in London. Both are seriously tasty and can be eaten at any time of the day.

Can you tell us your plans for the diner?

We will be starting a late night hospo service called Midnight Express. We’re going to get rotating operators to do late night snacks and drinks for the industry to wind down and relax after a hard week. You can come and talk shop, bitch and just have fun.

Tell us a bit more about the hospitality nights. Why did you decide to do this?

The first night will be on the 21st of July, with the first stop being Liverpool. Iain Ling from Hotel Lincoln and Mike Enright from the Barbershop will be helping me. They are both from Liverpool so the night will be themed around that. I’m a bit scared to get us all under one roof late at night but it should be fun.

The idea came from Mark Hix’s late night supper in London that got the hospo chefs, sous chefs and managers from around the top London restaurants to relax and unwind. They end up turning into one hell of a party.

We’ll see how my one goes.

Find them on Instagram. The menu features an all-day breakfast, with their Big Bad Omelette (chorizo, bacon, mushroom, cheddar and spinach), and all-day sandwich list, including fried chicken with a kick and a salt beef bagel accompanied by mustard and pickles. Yep – we said all day!

There’s the after 10am menu as well, with mouth-watering feeds like the slow cooked lamb ribs, a Porterhouse (for only $26!) and a Super Grain Salad for our healthy friends out there.