Abacus Bar & Kitchen will open on Chapel Street in Melbourne’s South Yarra on Thursday 15 December. The new venue is the brainchild of owner Dylan Whitmore, who’s teamed up with Chris Connolly (ex-Top Paddock), to craft a modern Australian menu with a Spanish and North African twist.
Located close to Prahran Market, the duo is aiming to push the boundaries of Melbourne’s dining scene, combining Connolly’s ‘out of the box’ menu with the laid-back, sub-tropical vibes of Whitmore’s hometown, Byron Bay.
“We wanted to create a really casual dining atmosphere; somewhere people can come in and spend two or three hours, rather than turning tables over as quickly as possible,” said Whitmore.
“We’ve filled the venue with trees and plants that grow around Byron Bay. We have a six metre fig tree in the centre of the room, which is surrounded by sub-tropical plants from northern NSW.”
The former bank building has been transformed by Architect Eats, combining wood, concrete and greenery to create the relaxed yet urban 100-seat venue.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Abacus will offer a caf vibe by morning and a restaurant/bar atmosphere by night.
The menu is heavily influenced by both Whitmore and Connolly’s experiences dealing directly with farmers and producers. Breakfast will provide a mix of brunch options alongside freshly baked bread and pastries, as well as nitro coffee on tap from local providers Padre Coffee.
“I worked in self-sufficient hotels and estates in Ireland and England. I got quite used to going out to the garden and making our meals out of what was available,” said Connolly.
“Now we have the concept of doing that, just in the city centre. It’s a big task but it’s something we want to push forward on.”
Connolly has established relationships with Victorian farmers, butchers and artisan producers.
“We won’t share much about it on the menu, but everything is 100 percent traceable so if someone asks about it we can tell them. A lot of places are using it as a selling point but we’re based on the idea that the only way to do things is the way your mum and dad did,” said Connolly.
While the produce and ingredients will be kept simple, Connolly won’t hold back on his typically playful style.
“I like to tinker a lot and put some theatre into it. We’ll use smoke guns, liquid nitrogen and volcanic rock.”
The drinks list features a range of craft beers, including eight on tap, and a locally-focused wine list, as well as classic cocktails.