An old aquarium on the Nepean Highway, a skip and a jump from Moorabbin Station, is now Comma Food and Wine, a bar and restaurant that has given its neighbourhood a major boost.
Owners Adam Cruickshank and Megan Kwee live in the area and wanted to elevate the food scene. "There are a lot of people living in Moorabbin who are priced out of Brighton and Hampton," says Kwee. "There's a culture of wanting good food and wine but there aren't many places for families and young professionals to go."
Comma fills the gap. Velvet booths, communal tables and an Astroturfed dog-friendly beer garden welcome all comers and the food, by chef Matt Woodhouse (ex-Hunter & Co Deli in Elsternwick), is a snacky mix of small bites and share plates.
Popular dishes include kingfish crudo with grape, cucumber and creme fraiche, a dramatic octopus tentacle with eggplant puree and chickpeas, and lamb cutlets with harissa, labne and zaatar. The signature Clockwork Comma cocktail keeps it cheery with vodka and Aperol.
Cruickshank and Kwee already run Crooked Letters coffee and bagel shops in Prahran and Notting Hill but have been wanting to do something bigger for a while.
They signed the lease last February and were able to complete their refit during Melbourne's long, weird year. "We were really fortunate," says Kwee. Not just because of the timing of the build but also because lockdown has anchored people in their home suburbs.
"The restriction of being within your 5km has built a connection to the local community," she says. "We are still feeling that people want to travel less. They don't necessarily want to get in a taxi and put on a mask."
That has meant a very positive start for Comma, which opened in December. "Locals are coming in and saying this is exactly what they've been wanting," says Kwee.
Open Wednesday-Sunday 3pm-late.
2 Station Street, Moorabbin, 03 9503 4238, wearecomma.squarespace.com