Mammoth cafe owners Nick and Zac Beerens will be burning the midnight oil when they open their new late-night venue Copycat in Elsternwick on November 5.
The brothers grew up in the area, and Copycat, next to Classic Cinemas, is the local they always wanted – a place to join friends for a drink, dissect the film you just watched, or bring your date for dinner.
"Night time is much more exciting," says Nick Beerens. "It's a higher level of service. It's more fulfilling – you get to set the tone of a perfect occasion."
Chef Kevin Middleton, who trained at St Kilda stalwart Donovans and was lately at Naked for Satan in Fitzroy, is pitching a broad contemporary menu to suit all comers. There's a vegan leek tarte tatin with almond feta; fried globe artichokes with hummus, saltbush and zaatar (ticking the gluten-free and meat-free boxes); and twice-cooked chicken with a chilli and wild oregano sauce normally seen on Peruvian anticuchos (beef heart) skewers. And riffing on Donovans' signature dessert, Middleton is serving bombe Alaska.
A chef's tasting menu and a bar menu of eight snacks plus cheese and oysters are also offered.
The 140-seat heritage-listed space, previously After the Tears, is split into cocktail bar, dining room and covered terrace. It achieves a level of intimacy through plenty of variation in table and seating heights and an angled ceiling thanks to cinema one being directly above.
"Everyone likes sitting in a nook and cranny. The space is based around providing as many of those as possible," says Nick.
Former Vue de Monde drinks wiz Harry Whitelegg has assembled a list of 12 house cocktails, including a tribute to the Bereen brothers' favourite at After the Tears, After The Fog, a mix of absinthe, Midori, apple, pineapple and lime juice. The wine list by Jane Semple (Vue de Monde, Ezard) is a mix of 50 labels spanning Tasmania's Marco Lubiana to Onannon on the Mornington Peninsula.
The Beerens have invested significantly in the fitout, using three distinct colour schemes to demarcate each space. The covered terrace will be a definite plus for those seeking outdoor dining spaces as Melbourne reopens after lockdown.
Open Sun-Thu 4pm-11.30pm, Fri-Sat 4pm-1.30am from Nov 5.
9B Gordon Street, Elsternwick, copycatelsternwick.com.au