If you're still looking for proof that Carlton's Lygon Street precinct has moved on from its naff past, the impressive recent overhaul of the iconic Percy's Bar & Bistro will be all you need to kill the whole argument.
Expat Sydneysider Darran Smith (ex-Icebergs, Glass) took over the decidedly dated corner venue early last year. He spent six months running it in its original state before deploying the talents of Sydney architect Thomas Jacobsen for the striking interior transformation, which was unveiled when the doors opened in late May.
The 40-seat front bar offers craft beers and serious cocktails, as well as well-priced casual grazing; think charcuterie, fancy hotdogs and "raw plates" of clams, oysters and cured salmon. Meanwhile, in the moodily sophisticated 50-seat dining room (The Roving Marrow), chef Hayden McMillan is flexing plenty of creative muscle sending out an ever-evolving mix of beautifully plated mod-Aus snacks and "Westernised Asian classics" via yum cha-style trolleys, as well as a full a la carte menu.
The Astor bar is open daily 11am-late; The Roving Marrow lunch Fri-Sun, dinner Wed-Sat.
418 Lygon Street, Carlton 9347 7419 theastorcarlton.com.au