Category Archives: South Yarra

Bending the restaurant rules… Pawn & Co

Shopping on Chapel Street has been given a new meaning at Pawn & Co, a thrift shop and bar that needs to be seen to be believed. Found high above Chapel Street, this bar may be the only place in the world where everything is for sale. From the furniture down to the glassware, owners Steve Wools and Josh Lefers of Big Dog Creative have proven that everything has a price. At Pawn & Co the interiors are nostalgic for the Prohibition-era, with an old-school wooden bar, velvet booths and tens of books lining the shelves, all ingeniously cut away to make room for a flask – which is for sale, of course.

Take a trip to the Prohibition era at Pawn & Co

Take a trip to the Prohibition era at Pawn & Co

With a room that is as much about the selling as it is the drinking, the menu is based on bites that can travel. Meatballs here are the order of the day, to be eaten separately or made into sliders, but with flavour combinations like Jamaican chicken; pork and apple; and double-bacon cheeseburger, it may be difficult to settle on just one. Just save some room for the ice-cream balls too. Each dish can be paired with a shot suggestion but for a taste of something a little more unusual try the cocktail list, which even features some creations made with absinthe. With regularly scheduled auctions organised to sell their wares, Pawn & Co offers the perfect escape from reality – just don’t let the green fairy do the bidding for you.

Aphrodite Vlahos

Read more about Pawn & Co here

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Upholding the Reymond reputation: Bistro Gitan

Siblings Antoine, Edouard and Nathalie Reymond – and yes, their father is none other than renowned French Chef Jacques Reymond – have joined arms to create Bistro Gitan – a charming restaurant that proves that French fare doesn’t need to be all high-class.

Antoine Reymond with our Melbourne food writer, Aphrodite

In a town where most high-end restaurants require a compass to locate, it is refreshing when one is actually visible from the street. Set at the top end of Toorak Road, Bistro Gitan’s converted Victorian house is as pretty as a picture, both inside and out. Reminiscent of a Parisian apartment, Bistro Gitan features worn wooden floors, vintage posters, familial portraits and tall arched windows that offer diners the perfect chance to people watch.

The restaurant’s aesthetic is quaint and charming but the focus is all on the food, sans pretentiousness. Under Head Chef Steven Nelson, who has worked for the past three years at fine-dining establishment Jacques Reymond, Gitan’s menu is broken into small, average and main sizes, with a large chalk specials board displayed next to the open kitchen. Here, classic French bistro dishes are served alongside Spanish and Italian influences, which have also found their way into the wine list. And, we must remember, “Gitan” is French for gypsy, so the menu’s curious combinations are not only executed perfectly but also make perfect sense.

Salad of roasted duck breast, sausage morteau and fresh borlotti beans with persillade and tomato

Formule Lunch Gitan – a simple course of soup and salad provides a perfectly balanced meal which, upon tasting, is anything but “simple”. When we visited, the soup was a rustic fish broth accompanied by a salad of roasted duck breast, sausage morteau and fresh borlotti beans with persillade and tomato. While the Formule Lunch Gitan comes highly recommended, the standout dish was six buttery escargots from the petite menu. Arriving in a dimpled ceramic dish, served simply with toasted baguette slices, Gitan’s escargots are just like those you would be served at a side street bistro in Paris. The baked hapuka fillet, a specialty from the Reymond family’s village and a Bistro Gitan signature dish, also comes highly recommended.

There is more to Bistro Gitan than fine family pedigree, with its comfortable, warm atmosphere and articulate menu, this restaurant is indeed an asset to Melbourne’s dining scene.

Aphrodite Vlahos

Read more about Bistro Gitan here

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South Yarra’s effortlessly chic Speakeasy Kitchen & Bar

Blink and you’ll miss the entrance to this new concept restaurant and bar on South Yarra’s Chapel StreetOwned and run by brothers Petros and Alexis Lambis, Speakeasy Kitchen & Bar is a one stop shop for all your wining and dining desires.

Perfect on a sunny Melbourne day, the outdoor area is ideal for a drink and casual meal

Slip through the Speakeasy shopfront and a deceptively large space is revealed. Modern and sophisticated, the design by Eon Architects features smart wood paneling, clean-cut Nordic furniture, an open kitchen and cascading wire chandeliers that soften the edge. Upstairs, the elegant private dining area provides seating for up to 40 and is the ideal space for a special gathering. However, for those not interested in formalities, a large courtyard outback offers alfresco nibbling on large communal tables and an area to enjoy a boutique beer or two. This rear patio (and obviously the restaurant’s name) takes inspiration from the 1920’s prohibition era speakeasy bars – featuring ‘secret’ laneways covered in graffiti art by local artists. The New-York inspired images that bedeck the buildings perimeter are by Paul Round of Urban Enhancement, whose character filled designs boast as much flair as the bartenders themselves. In the speakeasy theme, weekend barbeques draw quite the crowd, and with plans to feature live music throughout the summer, Petros and Alexis are sure to have their hands busy.

It’s rare to find a place that you can enjoy a drink and meal the night before, and happily head back the next morning for breakfast and this is what Speakeasy is all about. Whether you’re looking for a coffee and croissant, a beer and burger on a Sunday arvo, or a three-course meal of French Bistro classics, Speakeasy has it all.

The brother duo have done something rather novel and wonderful at this little gem of a restaurant on Chapel Street.

Anna Lisle

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Read more about Speakeasy Kitchen & Bar here

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