An underground bar in a heritage-listed CBD building with 'unicorn' doughnuts and strawberry and cream cocktails.
Melbourne has added to its ever-growing collection of basement drinking dens with the arrival of The Mulberry Group's latest venture, Dessous. Gracing the Flinders Lane space beneath newly launched sibling Hazel in the 1920s T&G Building and joining a stable of venues that also includes the multi-faceted Liminal and Geelong's Common Ground Project, this is the city's new hideaway wine bar.
The same minds that first brought us The Kettle Black, Top Paddock and Higher Ground, The Mulberry Group has here created yet another inviting hospitality destination with plenty of attention to detail. Like both its recent siblings, Dessous is sporting interiors by award-winning design firm The Stella Collective. It's a warm and moody assembly of deep greens, plush velvet and dark timber — a comfy, subterranean escape you'll be in no rush to leave.
Chef Dan Sawasak (Movida, Higher Ground) has pulled together a menu focused on snacking and sharing. Settle in over the likes of a pork belly sandwich with Bull-Dog sauce (a popular Japanese brand of tonkatsu sauce), a savoury comté panna cotta teamed with almonds, nettle and asparagus, or perhaps a main of skate dressed with crushed hazelnuts, jamón and warm grapes. Potatoes are done with fennel, 'nduja and crisp chicken skin, while a magical-sounding 'unicorn' doughnut stars corn custard, sea urchin (uni) and salmon roe.
The drinks lineup is an extensive one, with an international wine list that caters to just about every mood and taste. A strong contingent of by-the-glass options is sure to prove a hit with the after-work crowd, as is the tight, but proudly local craft beer selection and the hefty selection of spirits. Signature cocktails are crafty and refined, with options like the strawberry and cream-infused Peach Blow Fizz and the Hollowman: a fruity blend of mezcal, ginger, apricot and lemon sherbet.
Images: Jana Langhorst.