A CBD basement bar serving up French bistro food and cocktails until 5am.
September 24, 2019
UPDATE: JUNE, 2020 — Bar Margaux is reopening from Wednesday, June 24. It'll be open for dinner only, from 5.30pm every Wednesday to Sunday. Bookings can be made via the website, otherwise walk-in are welcome.
If there's one thing Michael Madrusan and his team have a knack for, it's creating strong characters. The founders of hospitality group Made In The Shade nailed a distinctly elegant vibe with award-winning cocktail bar The Everleigh, and followed up with the wild child party animal that is Russell Street's Heartbreaker. Now, Michael, alongside wife Zara and the rest of the crew, is turning his hand to yet another personality-fuelled venue, taking cues from the french brasseries of The Big Apple for the effortlessly sophisticated Bar Margaux.
It's a long-discussed concept for which the team has finally found the perfect home in a CBD basement — complete with very handy 24-hour licence. Rocking a sprawling underground space on Lonsdale Street, Margaux is set to be Melbourne's new go-to for wining, dining and late-night good times.
The vibe is pitched somewhere in between her two siblings. "She's a wild horse, she's got that wild late-night feel," says Zara. "It's going to be fun, it's going to be casual. A bar before a restaurant, but also a bit glamorous and sophisticated."
Here, the fun kicks on till 3am weekdays and 5am Fridays and Saturdays (a rarity with venues of this sort in the CBD), with a substantial supper menu of classic French fare on offer right through to close. It's also the Madrusans' biggest dive into the culinary game yet, with longtime friend and former colleague Daniel Southern heading up the kitchen.
Sophisticated, comforting French fare is the schtick — the lineup of escargot, Parisian-style gnocchi, duck frites and bavette steak are very similar to what you'd find in one of New York's well-loved brasseries. But, while Bar Margaux's key culinary focus might be on those classic French flavours, it's also out to deliver Melburnians a top-notch late-night offering. Shift workers and hospitality night-walkers can now tuck into the likes of steak frites, creamy bowls of mussels, or a decadent rotisserie lobster croque monsieur, right through until 5am on Fridays and Saturdays. The rest of the week is also a win for late-night appetites, with the kitchen plating up until 3am.
Then, there's the specials. Bar Margaux's 'Golden Hour', which runs daily from 4–6pm and again from midnight until close, promising eats and drinks at wallet-friendly prices. You might pop in for a burger matched with a glass of Burgundy, or perhaps a serve of oysters and Champagne, each for a neat $29.
Meanwhile, the daily-changing, classic French 'plat du jour' offering is sure to get a workout. Specials like Monday's beef bourguignon ($25), Tuesday's two-person fondue ($45) and the $26 coq au vin each Friday, make this the kind of place you'll want to put on high rotation.
Of course, with this team at the helm, the drinks list was always going to be gold as well. Madrusan's biggest cocktail list yet features a choose-your-own-adventure 'This & That' section, a solid spread of lower ABV creations and some longtime owner favourites, like the Guinness- and Champagne-infused Black Velvet, and a classic Irish coffee. Throw in a strong list of European beers, French wines and an impressive selection of Champagne and you'll be very glad this place kicks on late.
Venue images: Parker Blain. Food images: Gareth Sobey.