Thursday, 20 February 2014

Sweet Spaces: Melbourne Edition

Sweet Spaces: Melbourne Edition

At IconPark we’re all about taking a space and making it your own.  Every three months Stanley St will be transformed in to a new venue, which will require the adaptability and balls that will make or break the restaurant or bar.  For the first edition of Sweet Spaces, we journeyed to south of the boarder to see how Melbournites are reconceptualising spaces (some which are just a few metres wide; one a former left-wing political party office.  Yikes.) to create unique dining experiences.

Chuckle Park
322 Little Collins St, Melbourne.

A fresh angle on Melbourne’s saturated one-way laneway bar scene is Chuckle Park.  Basically it’s an endearing trailer park that flogs delightful $35 jugs of Sangria.  Underneath New Guernica (the interior of which would require a whole separate article), the snug space is lined with synthetic grass and a bald eagle emblazoned caravan which serves as the bar.  The design is cheeky; staff refer to the ‘lawn’ (AstroTurf), beverages (tinnies), and if you ask nicely, they’ll lay down a picnic rug. 

252 Swanston St, Melbourne.

If you’re asking around for a cool place to drink in Melbourne, chances are you’ll be told Cookie.  Formerly the headquarters of the Labour and Communist party, the space has been transformed in to a relaxed multi-leveled venue that’s part hipster, part regal.  There’s the hygienically-challenged Kiss Wall adorned with lipstick marks, a marble entrance, and a bookcase, perhaps a nod to the previous tenants.  And of course, there’s Melbourne Carpet – synthetic grass – that lines the rooftop.  The best thing about this space is the sky scraping ceilings which allows light to gush through the bottom level, and encourages the haunting Commy vibe upstairs in the night.

Cabinet Bar
11 Rainbow Alley, Melbourne.

When you’re done at Cookie, scoot around to Cabinet Bar.  It won’t make any hot lists but this venue, which was established in 2007, boasts a constant stream of regulars, and in measuring a bar’s success, that’s a good place to start.  It’s possible to enjoy a session in this space in any configuration; a couple can cuddle on a sofa and on weekends they hang the wooden chairs ON THE WALL to make room for the D-floor for the masses.  Bonus tip: $3 draft all day Tuesday.  You’re welcome.

Grubs Food Van
87-89 Moor St, Fitzroy.

Serving a solid list of Victorian wine out of a refurbished silver 1965 Airstream makes this adorable space more Taylor Swift than Anna Nicole-Smith.  Perched in the front yard of an industrial building, this venue keeps civilised hours and attracts the more discerning drinker.  Explained on the website, the space was engineered “alfresco and slightly exotic greenhouse environment to encourage a combination of earing and conversation”. 

Bar Economico
438 Church St, Richmond.

Like Cookie, this Cuban-themed bar is cashing in on the dive factor; Mojitos are advertised on ripped cardboard, the front windows are boarded up with newspaper, their street sign is stuck to a tree with tape.  It’s fucking awesome.  The ‘Rum Bordello’ is the opposite Max Bax’s Der Raum - which relocated to Munich in 2013.  The bartenders work behind a cage indicating that the rum-soaked patronage regularly turn feral.  It’s a robust space designed for a bit of rough and tumble; a sweaty Havana pool hall complete with drink tickets.

What are your favourite spaces in Melbourne?  Have you been to any of these sweet spaces?  Does Bar Economico really shit all over Der Raum? We want to know.  Hit us up on Twitter.   

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