The following editorials were commissioned by Citysearch
The Money Order Office
Melbourne is a very lucky city to have bars like the Money Order Office (MOO). All of Australia envies the way that Melbourne has reclaimed its forgotten laneways, rooftops and basements as destinations for the drinking class. As more and more classic corner pubs languish beneath the shadows of a new breed of hoteliers hovering for the kill, so to are long since forgotten warehouse and storage spaces falling prey to bright young operators. Located in a basement off a lane, off another lane, MOO is one such place.
This once dank and Dickensian annex to Melbourne’s glorious former GPO has been transformed into a seriously classy club-like lounge bar accommodating rich furnishings and intimate nooks aglow with warm, low lighting. As alluring as its setting are the 900 types of wines available from the wine list. Given this, added to a great cocktail list and many a top-shelf libation, it’s no wonder that MOO was voted Australian Wine Bar of the Year within 12 months of operations.
A bar grazing menu accompanies the many wines available by the glass or bottle. Becks is available on tap and great bottled beers from esteemed brewers such as the Clare Valley’s Tim Knappstein and the Barossa Valley’s Pepperjack add to the whole MOO experience. Upstairs, her little sister, the Penny Blue Lounge Bar ramps things up a little, where from 6pm on Fridays (and the occasional Thursday and Saturday night), the resident DJ holds court while dispensing chill house, funk and modern jazz. Silent movies from a laneway projector in the outdoor smoking area provide just the right amount of olde world cool. So Melbourne right now!
Brenton Geyer, April 2010
At the St Kilda Bowling Club, you don’t need to know anything about lawn bowls to soak in the time-honoured traditions associated with this genteel pastime, although many of its patrons do. Formed in 1865, the club is the second oldest existing bowls club in Australia and still operates primarily for that purpose.
This place is however, increasingly, is a destination for St Kilda-ites to toss away their working day worries, sit back with a beer and wind the world back a few notches. Hidden behind a high hedge on Fitzroy Street, this is the place of choice for cheap pots, bar-priced spirits and commonplace nuts and chips. Drinkers do not come here for anything fancy. It’s basic front bar stuff, no-nonsense service and designer-free in every way. It’s all wonderfully shabby (but definitely not chic) with a real ‘left over’ feel to the furnishings, not the least of which is the aged portrait of a young Queen Elizabeth over the bar.
In addition to a romp with ‘jack or ‘kitty’ on the green, the recreational curricula extends to pool, pinball, darts or table soccer. Such is the appeal of this place for its relaxed and leisurely paced approach to life that you may end up sharing a sausage sizzle with a team of boozed-up ad agency types, pierced and inked-up goths or somewhat bewildered senior long-term club members, all mixing it in the name of cheap beer and cheap thrills.
Brenton Geyer, April 2010
Cicciolina Back Bar
Cicciolina Back Bar Originally conceived as a holding pen for those in wait for a much sought after table at the attached restaurant, the Back Bar has now become an equally popular destination in its own right. Still St Kilda’s best kept little secret, the Back Bar is a favourite amongst favourites for a growing band of loyal Cicciolina devotees who bring with them a set of gourmet virtues that are iron-clad and unwavering when it comes to food, wine and Melbourne style. The Back Bar is bordello-like in its presentation, with high backed, black clad horseshoe booths, very low lighting, quirky décor and a rather unceremonious no-name side entrance. A bunker-like alleyway links a rear car park to Acland Street giving only secretive glimpses into what lurks beyond a set of old venetian blinds, much less to the talented folk whose eccentricity and individuality make this little gem work. A generously considered wine and cocktail list compliments yummy snacks designed to graze while drinking. Melbourne’s best spicy meatballs can be got for just $8.50 or a variety of other small plates that sample the menu of Cicciolina restaurant. When the Back Bar is really busy, it’s great, but when it’s empty, it’s better – like a secret discovery that everyone else is yet to find – a dark nook where you can imagine clandestine couplings and hushed negotiations taking place, a world away from the tourist-driven madness of Acland Street.
Brenton Geyer, July 2010