480 Victoria St North Melbourne, VIC 3051
|Opening hours||Mon Closed ; Tue-Sat 12pm–12am ; Sun 12–11:30pm|
|Features||Licensed, Bar, Vegetarian friendly, Accepts bookings, Outdoor seating, Family friendly, Gluten-free options|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Payments||eftpos, AMEX, Cash, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||03 9329 1634|
The only thing remotely low-key about this oddball pub-bar-hybrid near Errol Street is its businesslike name. Everything else is flamboyantly over the top, and why not? It's a welcome jolt to visit a venue that has its tongue in its cheek.
Much like its Richmond sibling, the Bouzy Rouge, the dramatically columned interior adopts the more-is-more approach, with gold walls, gilt mirrors, gaudy light fittings, potted ferns, oversize candlesticks, glittering bulls' heads and brass angels striking a pose. It's all verging on tacky, but quite hilarious if you just go with it.
Sitting at a marble table in a sturdy wooden throne is like waiting for your eccentric aunt in the lobby of a European hotel, or reclining on the set of a high-end adult film.
Owners and longtime publicans Sandra and Jose De Oliveira chintzed up the space of former restaurant Rubira's in just six days with the help of interior designer mate Jean-Pierre Heurteau.
It looks like it might be dizzyingly expensive, but it's surprisingly cheap, with wines from France, Italy and Portugal starting from $5 a glass and a house draught beer pouring at $4 a pot. Prices plunge even further at the nightly "Nock off at the North" happy hour from 4.30pm to 6.30pm, with $6 pints and spirits and $4 wines. My head!
Cocktails cover the typical daiquiri, negroni, espresso martini bases, but on the night of our visit the barman was up for experimentation and spontaneously unveiled a new cocktail, with the working title: Tequila Mockingbird. It's a squat, sticky mix of Aperol, pink grapefruit, gin, white tequila and orange bitters, and would actually kill a mockingbird.
A rye mint julep is also prepared with a heavy arm, a strong blast of booze and muddled green leaves that would get any party started.
The food from James Smyth is wide ranging and also well priced, darting around Europe with favourites from France to Spain to Italy.
The Angry Eggs offer drunk dining for the ages; a generous pile of hot, crisp potato cubes slathered in mayo, spicy salsa and topped with a runny fried egg, glorious when tossed together like a Glasgow salad.
More tapas bites such as jamon croquettes ($4) with plenty of crunch and ooze, and battered fingers of calamari ($14) with a bitey slick of salsa verde aioli, are on the money.
Larger plates include a hefty beef rib ($30), charred and flaking off a Flintstones bone with a spoonful of feathery mash, sweet cherry tomatoes, wilted spinach and jus. We licked the plate.
It's about champagne taste on a beer budget, darling. Wear your most "Ab Fab" outfit, get a group together and pre-order a feast, from whole suckling pig to a whole cooked goat – this is one place where you can literally go the whole hog.
Pro Tip: There are daily dining specials such as Tuesday's "duck duck goose".
Go-to Dish: Angry Eggs, $12.