Explore Melbourne’s Historic Lanes and Bars

Melbourne is a very historic city as far as history goes for cities in Australia. Thankfully it’s history is actually celebrated and much of the fabulous architecture that made Melbourne a capital city has been retained. A walk around Melbourne can be a great day out for people who love cities and old buildings.  Because of this old architectural way of creating space and dealing with what was required, Melbourne has some elegantly planted wide streets and fantastic lane ways shadowed by marvellous warehouses. It is in these great hidden lanes that Melbournians and visitors alike can explore and find some great cafes and bars.

Hardware Lane

Starting at the bottom of Hardware Lane, by McDonalds and the car park you will find the excellent Campari. This is a great venue with a nice cafe style restaurant on the ground level, a venue-cum-function room in the middle and a superb rooftop bar nestled in between the high rise offices of the CBD. This is one of the bars I head to when heading into Melbourne CBD as it offers so much variety and I must confess to have a a liking for roof top bars!

 

A little further up the lane over Little Bourke Street, you’ll be immersed in restaurants and spruickers plying for trade. Technically this “spruicking” is illegal under the Melbourne by-laws, but this makes it less intense and a more friendly approach to tempt you to one of their tables. It is what makes Melbourne a great city in which to eat. Generations of migrant families have worked these streets and this is how they have always worked. Think of it more as a tradition (and one that is fiercely protected up in Lygon Sreet). For those looking for a quieter, more intimate drinking experience, there are two bars located in the restaurants.  Amigos downstairs is very intimate and has that club feel to it. Next door you will find Charleys, a first floor level bar and again a nice intimate bar. Both these places are great for a romantic date or a quieter evening.

 

For those looking for something that little more noisy, at the end of Hardware Lane is the  Golden Monkey. A subterranean bar with some great sounds to help you party the night away.

 

 

Further along, once you cross over Lonsdale Street, you’ll come across Pug Mohones, a great Irish pub hidden from passer by on the busy Melbourne Streets. This is a nice place to hang with a pint of the famous black stuff. Located in an old warehouse, this pub gives you a bit of a feel for old Melbourne.

 

As always, the best way to find all these great bars is to download Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars.

On July 6th this year the legendary music venue, the Ding Dong Lounge, will reopen its doors to Melbourne’s music lovers. Closed a few years ago after a fire ripped through the German restaurant below, the venue has now been refurbished.

Billy Walsh, the sole owner and known in Melbourne for being the drummer in the Cosmic Psychos, is said to have conceived the idea for Ding Dong lounge after one-too-many margaritas at CBGB’s. You’ll have to ask Billy whether this is actually true or not. We haven’t spoken to him, so we don’t know if he is planning for some big names to be passing through, but with a heritage – including the likes of Noel Gallagher (who demanded to buy the bar), the White Stripes and a who’s who list of Melbourne bands – you can expect that this will return to being one of the places to be.

Reviews on the web indicate that once past the recognisable red neon sign, any similarities end there. Inside it is stated that:

you’ll be presented with Marc Bolan’s bedroom with booths.

Which is somewhat surprising as his bedroom was in the UK, but perhaps like Captain Cooks’ house, they brought it out brick-by-brick!?

We hear that an outdoor garden has been designed by the Dutch born vertical garden artist Joost and that they reckon this will be one of the “in” places for after work drinks. We’ll reserve our judgement until we have visited, but we wish Billy well in getting the Ding Dong Lounge back onto the Melbourne bar scene.

You can find the Ding Dong Lounge by downloading the Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars app.

The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is an annual event that draws a few tourists into the CBD. And why not, it’s a great day out in Melbourne and something that you could take the kids to. But it is not just about food and wine. This year saw the return of the temporary bar called Broadsheet. As we mentioned in a previous blog, the location of the bar was kept as a virtual secret, probably more due to finding a venue, than anything underhand.

Great days out in Melbourne and things to do

Broadsheet bar in Melbourne

Too late for a quick beer - again!

Troy and I did our research and tracked down this ellusive bar, but realised when we arrived that is was about to close. We had a chat with the bouncer outside, a nice young man who was happy to tell us all we wanted to know.

The bar did not look like something that you would travel across town for and it certainly would not pull you out of the Carlton Hotel, around the corner. But it was different and was often operated by owners of local bars who would add there certain “Je ne sais quoi” to the bar. We thought this was a great concept and sort of regretted imbibing a whole heap of beer down the road (Troy certainly did the next day!).

Too much fun in Melbourne pubs and bars

I should perhaps point out that we were late as we had spent the evening chatting with the owner of the Lustre Bar just down to road. What was planned as a quick “Hello” turned into an amusing night which both Troy and I rather enjoyed. Lustre Bar is a great place to hang out with friends. We like the relaxed atmosphere and opulent décor.

Sitting in large couches our host amused us with interesting stories of his career. Interestingly our host was a bit of an expert at making Vodka, which got us thinking that the selection of Vodka at Lustre Bar is probably quite good. We have no idea as by this time I couldn’t quite focus that far. I am sure our host will email me and put me right on that.

What make Lustre Bar special?

Our host had a simple philosophy regarding the beers that he served in the bar – if they are in Dan Murphy’s they wont be in here! We like that. But that is not to say that Dan Murphy’s sell rubbish beer, quite the contrary. But why go to a bar to drink something you can get it in the bottleshop? It was about this point that our host treated us to a rather nice beer called Prickly Moses. A very nice drop brewed down on the Victorian coast.

But our host did raise an important issue that night, the street art outside Lustre Bar. The artist rocked up last week to change the mural to something new, as the original work had been there for a while. We feel that the new artwork is not a patch on the old artwork. Let us know your vote!

Rate Lustre Bar Street Art

New art at Lustre Bar

The New Street Art

Street Art outside Lustre Bar

The Old Artwork

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make your voice heard at the Lustre Bar Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/LustreBar

 

1000 pond bend

Check out the delights behind the steel doors

One of my much-loved hang outs when in Melbourne is Thousand Pound Bend, at 361 Little Lonsdale Street. I used to think it was 1000 Pound Blend, as they are a café by day and cool bar at night. But Jonno corrected me – it is Bend, not Blend. Apart from the free wifi in Melbourne CBD, the large open spaces and cool music this café turned bar has a good vibe about it. Excellent coffee by day and a hip crowd adorning the bar at night.

 

Thousand Pound Bend is one of our favourite CBD bars in our Melbourne Pubs & Bars iPhone app, download it now. And, judging by the number of people marking it as “I like this venue” we are not the only Melbourne pub and bar goers who gravitate to it.

 

Close to Melbourne Central, this Melbourne café/bar is an old warehouse – hence the main area having a lot of room. Walk through the main area and you walk into a vast, open warehouse space. In here I have seen art exhibitions, break dancing competitions and even some comedy as part of the Melbourne Comedy Festival. Versatile little bar indeed.

 

interior of 1000 pound bend

Great coffee, breakfast and beer in the arvo!

Chairs and tables are old school – some literally looking like they are from a country school house! You could easily walk past this Melbourne bar. While it is not tucked away on an old cobbled backstreet, the façade is very much warehouse in an industrial part of Melbourne CBD. Even with the limited breakfast menu we have found the fodder for brekkie or brunch not too bad for a CBD café.

 

The only downside is the smoker’s room which looks out onto Little Lonsdale Street often does not have the door to the main café/bar area properly closed, so smokes drifts in and can damage your experience. Nothing a door spring wouldn’t fix!

 

If you are looking for a cool Melbourne bar to park yourself for a few hours with a laptop on your own (the free wifi has worked pretty well the 4-5 times I have tried it), or are in with the current Melbourne youth scene, the Thousand Pound Bend bar is for you.  If you are on your own and want to do some work, and are sensitive to a bit of noise, be sure to pack your headphones as they can crank up the tunes – especially late afternoon as the coffee drinkers slowly get replaced by seasoned Melbourne bar drinkers.

 

little lonsdale st Melbourne

A friendly request!

Easily find this and other great bars in our Melbourne Pubs & Bars iPhone app.

 

Best Cocktails in melbourneLike most blokes I am a bit of a beer drinker. On a warm afternoon after a hard days graft a cool beer always goes down a treat and manages to hit that spot that neither wine or spirits can quench. But that is not to say that I will only drink beer. I like wine and every now and again I am quite partial to a cocktail.

 

Who is making the best cocktails in Melbourne?

Cocktails are often considered as an older persons drink or only drunk on a 1930s theme night, but this image is changing. No longer is the cocktail the domain of the exclusive hotel bar, where waiters sneer at your average shoes and jeans are just not allowed. All over Melbourne bars are offering more than just bottled beers and spirits with a splash of bar mixer softies. No, the cocktail has come of age and there are some serious purveyors of mixed spirits.

Bar Americano – Melbourne’s best cocktail bar?

During my travels researching Melbourne’s 250 odd pubs and bars for the Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars iPhone app, I wandered in to Bar Americano. Well, truth be told it was a hard hunt to find this rather wonderful little bar hidden down an alley, away from general view. Upon my arrival the bartender was busy mixing up cocktails for clients perched on the stools at the bar. I watched in awe as his passion for making cocktails became evident with the care and expertise he showed. A twist of orange peel over the glass to give that hint of aroma completed his amazing creation.

Amazing cocktails made with passion

Bar Americano

Cocktails with passion - A Melbourne experience

Amid oowhhs and ahhs from the receivers of those wonderful concoctions, I started to chat with the bartender. But he was distracted in a bit of a concerned way. Begging my pardon he asked his customer if he liked the cocktail, to which the man replied that “it was not what I was after”. The bartender offered to replace the drink, to the reluctance of the customer.

“I want you to be happy with your drink” came the barman’s reply.

After a few minutes of asking what the man liked and disliked, the bartender got to work and in no time another creation was placed in front of the customer. Once his customer was happy, he returned to me for a chat. I was astounded; service like that so rarely happens and was enjoyable to watch. It is this passion that makes Bar Americano that something special. It is an intimate and friendly place with excellent customer service. It is a truly special place and worth seeing out when in Melbourne.

And yes, it will be a lot easier to find using the Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars iPhone app - along with the dozens of other bars that focus or specialise on cocktails.

Melbourne Laneway - hiding great pubs and bars

Travellers and locals to Melbourne may be surprised to know that in Melbourne CBD there are over 200 pubs, clubs and bars. Over 200 pubs and bars and this does not include Docklands or Southbank, both of which are an easy walk or taxi ride from the CBD.

So this presents a problem when visiting Melbourne for just a few days, just where should you go for a night out with your loved one or friends?

 

Over 200 pubs and bars in Melbourne CBD

Best Melbourne Pubs and BarsMelbourne is a great place to visit, but if you are the for a weekend or on business, you don’t have time to plod from bar-to-bar trying to find one with that just right ambience. For business travelers you may want to take your clients out for a pre-meal drink and want to impress them. Yes you can spend hours surfing the net, but then who really wants to waste time trawling through 250 different websites before going out?

The answer lies in a new handy app for the iPhone – Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars. Launched in February 2012 at an introductory price of just $2.99, this app will guide you to around 250 pubs and bars in Melbourne CBD environs. Unlike other apps available, Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars includes all pubs and bars, so no matter what you a looking for, it is all in your pocket. The app includes up to 3 photos of most bars showing the interior, so you can judge for yourself just what atmosphere you can expect. If you are looking for a great bar to watch sport with your mates, a gentlemen’s lounge or a seductive cocktail lounge to impress a first date, the Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars iPhone app has them all.

 

Act before the price rise!

The extensive research which is on-going is not something you can expect in a free app. With Google navigation, offline maps for those with no data connection, “Like” options and the ability to bookmark places you have been, this app has a lot of quality content. At $2.99 as an introductory price, Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars is excellent value for money.

 

 

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I have always laughed at the notion of the “Paris”-end of Melbourne as so often these local names are applied by people who have never been to Paris! Strolling through the east end, there is little to be compared to Paris in terms of architecture and ambience. I did spot a couple of dog turds, but I am sure that is not what is meant by the Paris-end of Melbourne. But then I stumbled upon the Collins Quarter, a rather seductive bar with a bit of a European feel. Still I could not say I felt like I was in Paris.

Eifel tower - the Paris Landmark

Sacre Bleu - This is not Paris!

Collins Quarter is a lovely eloquent bar with a certain allusive feeling. Walking through the door in trainers you realise that this is just not on. The bar ambience tells you that you are under dressed and you will feel more comfortable in a nice shirt. Although having walked in in trainers, the staff did not look down upon me, nor did they refuse to serve. It is this exclusive feeling that makes this bar really something quite special and well worth slipping into.

Melbourne has its own personality, a vibrant street scene with amazing coffee shops and bars.

After a brief chat with the owner about our Best Melbourne Pubs & Bars iPhone app it was back to the streets for more “research”. Around the corner I did stumble upon a great Melbourne bar called Society. With a bright yellow awning covering the street and wicker style chairs I accepted that this did indeed reflect an impression of Paris that is portrayed in American movies.

But Melbourne is never going to be Paris and it shouldn’t even try. Melbourne has its own personality, a vibrant street scene with amazing coffee shops and bars. It’s time to lose the romantic associations with other cities and realise that Melbourne has come of age and is a city sitting on the edge of the worlds stage. Troy and I predict that Melbourne will become Australia’s most populous city with an international attraction that is likely to be greater than the population of some states over the next 20 years (much to the disgust of the NSW Premier no doubt).

In the Paris end of Melbourne

OK! It looks a bit like Paris

It is difficult to point a finger and say that one person has created the stimuli for Melbourne to have grown into what it is. But certainly the number of bars and pubs in the CBD (there are over 200 in the CBD included in the Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars app) has given the city a positive edge. With cities like Perth wanting to emulate the Melbourne bar scene, albeit hindered by restrictive liquor licensing laws, Melbourne can hold her head high as a shining example of an emerging living, breathing city.

So next time you are looking for a nice weekend away, surf the net and grab a cheap flight to Melbourne, download Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars to your iPhone and set off on a voyage of discovery of perhaps the best bars on the continent.

Walking along Little Lonsdale Street in the north end of Melbourne’s CBD, you may be forgiven for missing the 1,000£bend.  Little Lonsdale Street is a backstreet after all and is not that heavily used.  But sadly by not wandering the backstreets you are missing out on some of Melbourne’s cool bars and cafes.

Another of Melbourne's great cafes / bars

Trendy with an industrial feel

 1,000£bend – an odd name in a backstreet location!

 

Stumbling upon this funky gallery cafe-cum-bar in an old warehouse, you may think it is just a cafe , but out the back there is an exhibition area. Sadly whenever we have dropped in, there have been no exhibitions and to date the young lady who runs it has not got in contact to tell us “what’s it all about!” (a gentle prod!).

Find them in the Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars app

 

With 1970s furniture and hippy soundtrack this is a great find on the side streets of Melbourne. An early morning breakfast with great coffee or a late afternoon beer, this place has it all.

 

Great bar cum cafe in Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

A friendly reminder!

Address: 361 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne 3000

Phone: n/a

Web: n/a