It may be midwinter, and a bleak one at that, but that's not stopping three Melbourne venues from opening or revamping rooftop bar and dining areas.
On the corner of Russell and Flinders streets, Melbourne's oldest pub, The Duke (est.1853), has replaced the space formerly known as Dutchess with The Duke Rooftop Bar. It's a slick, spacious indoor/outdoor space with a retractable roof for our fickle weather, and booths for cosy catch-ups. The Melbourne theme runs strong. As well as impressive vantage points of city landmarks the Forum Theatre and Federation Square, there's pub food celebrating local legends – the Warney Pork Burger and Lygon Street-style lasagne croquettes among them. It's a smart pub in a city centre not overly abundant with them, and should appeal to the after-work and pre and post-match crowd, given its several screens showing sport and proximity to the 'G and Melbourne's sports precinct.
Heroes karaoke bar at 188 Bourke Street, Melbourne. Photo: Eugene Hyland
A couple of drop punts away in Bourke Street is Heroes, the newbie from the Fancy Hank's team. . While punters belt out Mariah Carey et al in the karaoke bar downstairs and Asian hawker-style barbecue dishes sizzle on level two, the rooftop bar brings colour and views to rival those of the Carlton Club directly across the road. Venue designer and co-owner Kent Bell has channelled the backstreet bars of Kuala Lumpur for the vibe, complete with neon lighting, lush plants and a long, narrow space punctuated with furniture and heaters to keep it cosy even on cold winter nights.
The "bikini" at Bomba Rooftop Bar. Photo: Peter Tarasiuk
Meanwhile, in Lonsdale Street, the finishing touches are being put on Bomba's Rooftop Bar for its much-anticipated reopening on July 19. Along with a second terrace – and a new south-facing view – there are high tables, seating aplenty, and Spanish-inspired black and white films projected onto the theatre opposite. There's a strong gin focus and cocktails on tap to sip while tucking into what may be the bar snack of the year, the "bikini", a Catalan toastie of jamon Iberico with truffle; or smoked ham hock, mahon and mozzarella. There'll be no rain in this slice of Spain either – the retractable roof is all ready to roll.
Winter, do your worst.
The Duke Rooftop Bar, 146 Flinders Street, Melbourne. Open Mon-Sat noon-1am, Sun noon-11pm dukeofwellington.com.au
Heroes, 188 Bourke Street, Melbourne. Open Tue-Thu 4pm-1am, Fri-Sat 1pm-1am heroesbar.com.au
Bomba Rooftop Bar, 103 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. Open daily 3pm-late bombabar.com.au