Flinders Walk Melbourne, Victoria 300003 8648 7644
|Opening hours||Daily 7.30am - late|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Payments||AMEX, eftpos, Mastercard|
Not all Melbourne hangouts feel like they're built for all Melbourne people so it's exciting to come upon a place that's as democratic as Flinders Street Station, which Arbory happens to abut.
This 100-metre long dining and drinking terrace runs between platform 10 and the riverbank. It's completely outdoors, though well sheltered by umbrellas and cosied by heaters. I've been there on a bitterly cold, sideways rainy night and even shrugged my coat off to eat my burger.
Arbory is a please-all-comers kind of place: fly by on your way to work for coffee, corn fritters and contemplation, bring the toddlers for morning tea or nana for chocolate Guinness cake served with a boat of cream. Share crinkle-cut chips with workmates, settle in with footy pals for a pre or post-game conference, ponder the performance you've just seen at the Arts Centre or snuggle up for an easygoing date night.
Whoever you are, whenever you roll in, order at one of the shipping container bars, take a number and find a stool or chair.
The menu is egalitarian too, with the double cheeseburger the biggest hit. The deep-fryer works like a trooper, turning bulbous chorizo corn dogs a lovely golden brown, sizzling calamari, and putting a crisp crust on cheesy mushroom croquettes.
It's not all about the oil bath, though. Roast onion and cauliflower pie is smart and sustaining, the sturdy filling encased in a gorgeous pastry dome. There's also seafood spag, pork chop with apple sauce and pepper steak.
The wine list is split into "classic" (easy drinking) and "adventurous" (not scary but look out for the Mongolian cab sav).
Nothing at Arbory will change your life but it won't ruin it either and there's something wonderful about this blend of Melbourne tribes fed and watered to a mash-up soundtrack of Metro announcements and party tunes.
Rating: Three and a half stars (out of five)