Proud Mary, Collingwood.
Proud Mary, Collingwood. Photo: Eddie Jim

Hilary McNevin and Roslyn Grundy

A mex of flavours

Melbourne will get its first Chinese-Mexican venue when La Chinesca opens next month. A late-night bar with a food focus, it's designed to reflect owner Andrew Lewis' nine years in Hong Kong and Shanghai and his love of Mexican food. Housed in the basement of heritage-listed Harley House (the space was previously Strange Wolf ), an interior of raw concrete, exposed brick and booth seating has been designed by Collingwood-based studio Eades & Bergman. There will only be 12 dishes on the menu at any time including Sichuan chicken wings and Loco fried rice with pork hock, prawns and grilled corn. The night-time-only venue, at 71 Collins Street, is set to open from mid-February.

Tastes of India at George

Babi Ji's menu will be similar to Horn Please.
Babi Ji's menu will be similar to Horn Please. Photo: Supplied

St Kilda icon the George building goes a little bit Indian when the owners of Fitzroy North's Horn Please open Babu Ji next door to the Melbourne Wine Room. Jessi and Jennifer Singh, who started their restaurant careers with Kyneton's Dhaba at the Mill, are taking their infectious mix of street snacks and road-less-travelled curries to the Grey Street site, with the menu running along similar lines to Horn Please: ''All inspired by India as a whole, not by a specific region,'' says Jennifer. Babu Ji will do takeaways and plans to be open Thursday to Tuesday evenings from mid-February.

Second venue for Proud Mary owner

Fans of Collingwood's Proud Mary cafe and roastery will be pleased to hear owner Nolan Hirte is opening a second venue at 276 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. Stagger Lee's, named after an American folk song, is a co-production between Hirte and Proud Mary manager Monica Chhay along with chef Chris Hamburger - most recently at Twenty and Six Espresso and St Ali North. Naturally enough Stagger Lee's will use Proud Mary beans.

Stagger Lee's will be open daily for breakfast and lunch from mid-February.