Unless you're doing a strict Febfast, last week may have left you wanting a drink. Melbourne, shaken but not deterred by Lockdown 3.0, has plenty of new places for you to get one.
It's only fair to start with Gertrude Street's Poodle Bar and Bistro. Timing has been a challenge for owners Zoe Rubino, Emilio Scalzo and head chef Josh Fry, with lockdowns landing every time they went for a grand launch.
And so it was again, immediately after they revealed their glamorous top deck, Poodle Upstairs. Regardless, the glamorous room, all glittering glassware, dark wood arches and open fireplace (for later), is now all go, with 16 classic and remixed cocktails (including their Wet Poodle, a martini play), charcuterie Fry spent the last lockdown perfecting, cured fish and a caviar service. Walk-ins only. poodlefitzroy.com.au
The Cappo Sociale terrace within the rebranded Hotel Fitzroy. Photo: Supplied
Nearby, the Ichi Group has reinvented its multistorey venue at 127 Brunswick Street as Hotel Fitzroy. The ground floor izakaya, Ichi Ni Nana, is staying, but incoming is a large Italian restaurant and terrace, Cappo Sociale, which opens on February 24 with local and Italian wines, and a menu of 72-hour fermented pizzas, pastas and plates overseen by industry veteran Maurice Esposito. A rooftop bar will also open this Wednesday, with the new public bar due mid-year. capposociale.com.au
Bar Bianco in Hawksburn Village is al about the finer details. Photo: Jake Roden
While on an Italian tip, the aspirational Bar Bianco has just landed in Hawksburn Village, between Toorak and Prahran. No relation to Kew's Mister Bianco, this is the GURNER Group, which has applied a $3 million renovation to a former Mini dealership to create a luxurious nook of sleek joinery and terrazzo flooring.
Glen Bagnara, of Hemingway's Wine Room, is overseeing a premium Italian, French and Australian wine list, with a rich vein of amaros. The menu equally means business, with premium ingredients highlighted in bold. barbianco.com.au
More irreverent is the new Stingrays cocktail saloon and event space above Bodriggy Brewing in Abbotsford. The look falls somewhere between 1970s disco (velvet couches, disco ball) and wild west saloon, and along with the house beers, local wines and cocktails, there will be monthly parties, starting with a Brazilian carnival, postponed from Valentine's Day to February 28. The venue will also play host to private parties of up to 70. bodriggy.beer.
Essendon has welcomed Primrose and Vine bottle shop's new wine bar. Drinkers can select from 20 wines by the glass, or pair any bottle from the shop (plus corkage) with charcuterie or cheese boards or pizza from nearby Il Caminetto. primroseandvine.com.au.