New bar Shabooh Shoobah is the one thing Brunswick West needed

Opening in a former butcher shop, the new bar is the type of casual local that is missing in this quiet strip of ...
Opening in a former butcher shop, the new bar is the type of casual local that is missing in this quiet strip of Brunswick West. Photo: Tom Campbell

Shabooh Shoobah, the title of INXS's third album, isn't just fun to say; it's the new home of fun in Brunswick West. A bar named after the 1982 album opened on Melville Road last week, bringing wine, simple snacks and a classic-looking room to a strip that sorely needed a good local.

Emily Bitto and Hootan Heydari, the same couple that helped open Heart Attack & Vine on Carlton's Lygon Street seven years ago, are behind the new spot, along with their friend Sam Steck, a chef with time at Neighbourhood Wine and London's Brawn.

"There's literally just nothing around here," says Bitto, who is also the author of two novels. "It's weird, if you go in any direction, there's heaps. But not in this little pocket."

The owners were also part of the team who opened Heart Attack & Vine on Lygon Street in 2014, a casual all-day spot ...
The owners were also part of the team who opened Heart Attack & Vine on Lygon Street in 2014, a casual all-day spot modelled on the bars of Europe. Photo: Tom Campbell

The trio have designed Shabooh Shoobah as a spot for Sunday afternoon drinks, small plates that might become dinner, or a solo glass of wine after work, with the whole venue reserved for walk-ins, a rarity in these post-lockdown times. Wine is the focus, particularly from Victoria with a handful of Italian, French and Spanish labels, while Coburg Lager is on tap and classic cocktails like Manhattans are batched and ready to pour.

There's not much of a kitchen, so Steck's menu is a collection of simple Mediterranean bites such as artichoke, manchego and quail egg gildas, and larger plates like broad beans with spring onion and stracchino cheese. But if you mix and match a few plates, you can easily call it dinner, according to Bitto.

The menu will expand as additional seating capacity is allowed under Melbourne's easing of restrictions.

Vinyl over the speakers, vintage timber furniture and original terracotta tiles are part of the Old World feel in the bar.
Vinyl over the speakers, vintage timber furniture and original terracotta tiles are part of the Old World feel in the bar. Photo: Tom Campbell

The double-fronted space, a former butcher shop, has given the team scope to create two distinct spaces, with tables, chairs and red banquettes on one side and a long marble-topped bar with stools on the other, with each space separated by an arch. Hand-poured concrete floors, terracotta tiles revealed during the renovations, art deco light fittings and vintage timber chairs and stools give the bar an Old World feel, enhanced by the vinyl that's on heavy rotation.

"It's a very diverse collection with a bit of all of our different tastes. It's been fun bringing it all together," says Bitto.

This latest bar follows on from a string of other successful venues from Heydari, including Wide Open Road, Terror Twilight and A Minor Place.

Open Wed-Sat 4pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-11pm

59A Melville Road, Brunswick West, 03 9917 2702, shaboohshoobah.com