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The Age from Melbourne, Victoria, Victoria, Australia • Page 101
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The Age from Melbourne, Victoria, Victoria, Australia • Page 101

The Agei
Melbourne, Victoria, Victoria, Australia
Issue Date:

The bars: where to find them A Trika 44 Rim Babalons Suppar Club Intarnatlonal Becco OO Bar up top Troika, 106 Little Lonsdale Street. Tel: 9663 0221 It looks like throe people designed Troika. In the front third there are red cushions up the wall; in the middle arc green dresses and the back third is decorated with light boxes and a metal collage. Handy then, that Troika is Sple.Ml'rPIc to Public Lounge ScuBar Gin Palace g' Kitten Club Valour Purple Emerald Misty Gin Palace, 190 Little Collins Street Tel: 9654 0533 Melbourne's bar of choice among upwardly mobile types oozes indulgence and style. Syracuse Hall's Kitchen WW Dclnxi. lush ami vplver-linpri so named because it is owned by three people who all studied fine art together. Scraping together money and borrowing some more, Paul Marshall, Mark Dundon and Lisa Sanderson represent the up-and-coming owners of small bars, where there's less of a need for capital than for lots of imagination. The timber floor, for example, has been recycled from the Dandenong High School gym. Troika opened last Easter after a nine-month wait for a licence, and has established a strong regular clientele: artists, architects, friends of the owners. It is very casual -no suits. There's no dress code, no security. "It's supposed to be relaxed, with no attitude," says Dundon. "And we are all dags, anyway." Troika is small it would be busy with 50 people and most settle into groups at tables or along the central bar. Beers are varied: Asahi, Stella, Matilda Bay, Coopers, Boag's, VB, Cascade. A range of red and white wines come by the glass generous tumbler-full, actually. Good for: An intimate, groovy tipple. Food: Limited selection. Try an antipasto plate for $7. Bloody Mary: $5. Ordinary. Overheard conversation: "Mow can she be a vegetarian and keep a goldfish?" Open: From 4pm until around 12.30am, 1 1pm on Sundays. its interior is inspired by 1 870s Budapest, 1950s Manhattan and ultra-modernity. Gin Palace has three silent owners and one spokesman, Vernon Chalker, all in their 30s. None of them had run a bar before (Jin Palace opened in 1997. Its aim: a place to have a relaxed drink with good service and soft music. There are four drinks lists brought to your table by smart waiters beer, champagne, wine and the specialty cocktail, martinis. Good for The best martini menu in town. Food: Oh yes.The menu includes Yarra Valley goats' cheese with quince paste and Lavosh crackers ($12) and chicken, chive and mayo toasted sandwiches Bloody Mary: $10. Full, fruity, with whole celery stick. Overheard conversation: "I am admiring your shoes. Open: 4pm-3am seven days a week. Good for Impressing (or baffling) interstate mates. Food: A great place for lunch. You can get a fine curry and rice most days between noon and 2pm for $6. There's a chef starting in the evenings soon. Bloody Mary: Not available when we visited. No tomato juice in the house. Overheard conversation: "No. I didn't speak to him. I saw him but he didn't see me. But guess what? I get on the tram and there he is again." Open: From 9am until 7pm Monday to Thursday and until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays. Closed Sundays. PJR The Purple Emerald Bar, 189 Flinders Lane. Tel 9650 7753. Purple Emerald has a silly name but really it's just a functional little The Public Office, 100 Adderley Street. Tel: 9321 6500 Perched as it is in backwater West Melbourne, between Spencer International Lounge Bar, 18-24 Market Place. Tel: 9663 2085 The International is like a cross between some James Bond airport Your at-a-glance guide to the best bars in town. The quiet drink Spleen Central Hell's Kitchen Rue Bebelons The Public Office Troika The Purple Emerald Misty The Kitten Club Meyer Place The big night out 44 Velour The International The Up-Top Bar Lounge Scubar Double-0 A cut above Syracuse Gin Palace Becco The Supper Club Street and Dudley Street in the shadow of the Remand Centre, the Public Office is as hard to define as it is to find. "We call ourselves a Bronze Wing lounge as opposed to a Golden Wing lounge," laughs co-owner James I-egge, of the hip architectural firm Six Degrees. "You can check your email, send a fax, make phone calls, have a meeting, eat and look at some art while you wait." Six Degrees James Legge, Craig Allchin, Mark Healy, Peter Malatt, Simon O'Brien and Daniel O'Loughlin own the bar with a silent partner, Hans Eisen. Six Degrees also co-own the Meyer Place bar, which opened nearly five years ago, and Chapel Street's Blue Bar. The Public Office opened up in 1997 with no fanfare. The intriguing decor is similarly no-frills, made up of surplus office furniture and oddities, such as the bank of derelict 1970s TV monitors near the bar. Drinks-wise it's the same idea just the basics. But that's the appeal. The owners, though, hesitate before calling their creation a bar. "It's a hybrid," says James Legge. "A canteen, an office, an art gallery and a bar." The crowd is a certain type: artists, architects, students, writers and multimedia people. You could stroll in here wearing a gorilla suit and most people would just assume you were a conceptual artist. lounge scenario and a weird train station. There's I950s-inspired colours and hardy retro furniture everywhere. Old travel posters complete the picture, as well as kooky souvenirs and aeroplane mobiles. It's a split-level joint the DJ spins records in the second, slightly smaller arena. They like it funky in here with black 1970s music, especially at weekends. During the week, it's more relaxed lounge music. The crowd is a mix of art students and fringe dwellers during the week with relaxed business types on Friday nights. It's owned by music industry brothers James and Bruce Milne, Greg Bremcar and veteran Melbourne DJ Tim Stammers, all in their 30s who had never owned a bar before opening the International three years ago. It's a good place to drink but, on weekends and late at night, the crowd is young, frenzied and prone to go a little wild: be warned. Good for A big party with a large group of friends. Food: No, only a measly chip machine in the corner. Bloody Mary: $10. Average. But at least the bar staff asked how hot we wanted it. Overheard conversation: "Fatboy Slim is it this year. I'd pay a whole Big Day Out ticket just to hear that Funk Soul Brother thing." Open: Sunday to Wednesday 8pm-2am, Thursday to Saturday 8pm-4am. Saturday is the busy night. Continued next page bar with next to no adornments or distinguishing features. It's a long skinny room with scuffed couches, a motley collection of tables and chairs, an enclave for a band and a simple bar selling simple alcohol. No tricks, no toys, no gimmicks and no hype. Regardless, it's popular, at least sporadically. This is the kind of bar where it's lonely one night and steaming the next; it's either deserted or there's queues down the lane. The crowd is a real mixed bunch and always changes. This is our sampling from 10pm on a recent weeknight a row of 20-something women chain-smoking Menthols on the bar stools; a frumpy middle-aged couple huddled in the darkest recess; various tables of inner-city trendies and a contingent of jazz fans in sensible jumpers waiting for the band. There's live jazz every night from Wednesday to Sunday and a light menu of mid-price snacks such as nachos and pizza. Good for The quiet one before a movie. Food: During the day. Don't expect much. Bloody Mary: $5. Ordinary. Overheard conversation: "That was you! No way! I didn't know you wore hats!" Open: From noon to 1am Monday to Thursday, noon to 3am on Fridays and Saturdays and 5pm to 1 1pm on Sundays. Sundaylife! 13

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