Freelance writer exploring Melbourne and beyond. If you enjoy the following article click on the Like button, Facebook it to your friends or subscribe. I'll update you with yummy and often free events. Like my photos? I instagram @redbagwilltravel
There is so much to do around Southbank. And I'm not just talking about ambling along Southbank Promenade looking at the glittering shops, crowded restaurants and flame throwers at Crown Casino.
I am talking about the cultural hub behind this glittery showcase. The perhaps better source of Melbourne's culture: Melbourne Arts Centre, Concert Hall, Melbourne Recital Centre, National Gallery of Victoria, the Malthouse Theatre, the ACCA and the Victorian College of the Arts.
We went to see a set of student films at the VCA and were wondering where to eat afterwards.
A bit of research dug up a place called Downstairs Bistro & Lounge in Sturt Street. The price was right, the dearest main being an aged porterhouse at $32 (with peppercorn jus and truffle curried egg powder I might add.)
But heaps of meals in the $20 vicinity including items like Prawn Linguini, Veal and Lamb al la ragu Rigatoni, and pan roasted house-made potato gnocchi. Also some $10 gourmet pizzas that some claim are the best in town.
But despite the low prices sometimes you can get an experience that is much better than you pay for.
There has been an explosion of people living in the tiny suburb of Southbank mostly living in high rise apartment blocks. Downstairs is tucked away at the base of one of these. - Southside Tower. Therefore aptly named Downstairs.
The mood was set. It was dark with lots of candles and a large fireplace.
People sat huddled around on leather couches in front of this fireplace taking in the melodic singing of Rob Tripolino who was providing lots of classics and strumming along on an acoustic guitar. A bit of Beatles, Denver .... stuff like that.
It was quite mood enhancing and very laid back and just so lovely to hear live, but gentle music.
We opted to share a couple of tapas plates. Sherry glaze banana prawns on a plentiful bed of chopped chorizo, tomato and red onion served with crusty bread ($16) and a plate of KFC chicken -(not what you are thinking) - rather tantalisingly seasoned Korean fried chicken served with shredded white pickled radish and thinly sliced cabbage($15.50)
We also ordered one of what is usually the most boring fodders known to man - chips'- but in this instance they were hand cut, cooked to perfection in a good oil with a side of rosemary salt and perfect consistency of aioli ($8).
Service was excellent throughout and you could see some of the chefs at work.
Great to have real linen napkins and surprise, surprise because we ordered KFC and they had seen us using our fingers they brought us hot towels to clean up with.
There is a terrace for hot nights. There were groups of people listening to the music (I suspect residents), quite a few couples on dates and a few people on their own diners perhaps on business trips.
There would be a number of things to go back for as well. They do a Wednesday steak night at $18.50 including a glass of matching wine or beer, a Sunday roast $18. Those lucky residents in the tower would never have to sully up there brand new kitches. In that respect a bit like Oak and Steel in Windsor/Prahran.
There are happy hours every night from 3.30 to 6.30 with ten dollar cocktails and cheap pizzas and tapas.
There is live music on Thursday and Friday nights.
Then for those wishing to absorb some of the local culture, they have a present offer for pre-theatre dinners, two course for $35 or three course for $45.
Downstairs is also within walking distance to The Coopers Malthouse, Melbourne Recital Centre and Southbank Theatre.
This also adds to a couple of other great eateries in the area we have experienced recently Kitchen Workshop at Crown (buffet with a dessert bar worth queueing for) and Munich Brahaus (German style beer hall) at nearby South Wharf. Oh, and Blondie Bar (French Asian inspired fusion) that is right in the Recital Centre. But for food and atmosphere I think I probably like Downstairs the best but the others are also different and recommended experiences.