A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published February 22nd 2019
Naturally, you'd want to try this place
Natural History Public Bar recently re-opened its doors after a bit of a refresh. It's been open for just over 12 months, and somehow had not previously hit my radar.
Why, I wondered, was it called the 'Natural History' Public Bar? The answer was immediately apparent as I entered the venue; there is an extensive (15 metre) diorama of taxidermied animals running down one side, conjuring images of a similarly named museum in London.
Natural History Public Bar features a 15 metre diorama along one side
Another aspect of this venue that hits you as you walk in is the scale. We are definitely not talking an intimate bar here. This place is massive - almost as large as a... well... museum. But if you wanted to find an intimate space, you most likely could. There are lots of alcoves, and nooks and crannies, (some bookable for private events). It felt like it would take an afternoon just to do a tour of this place!
A vast bar, with many nooks and crannies
Natural History Public Bar is targeting Collins Street workers looking for a regular haunt that will take them from breakfast through to dinner, and hence is open to the public from Monday to Friday only.
Seated towards the back of the venue, we had a view of the beautiful leadlight windows in the historic building located opposite Natural History.
View of the historic windows next door
We sampled some of the food on offer, plus wines selected by sommelier Gavin Wraith. Wraith has a strong focus on natural (organic and biodynamic) wine, and many of the wines on offer come from small producers.
The menu is extensive and covers snacks through to 'larger' and 'grill'.
For a lighter snack, we tried the summer tostada with summer radish and black bean salsa, barbecue eggplant and coriander ($14 for 4) from the sharing menu. These were a delicious crispy treat, a flavoursome accompaniment to a glass of wine.
For main course, try the wilderness flat iron beef with onion rings and bone marrow butter ($33, 300g steak). The meat was melt-in-the-mouth tender, the flavour rather like Wagyu, suggesting a good marbling of fat.
Wilderness flat iron beef
If you're planning a night time visit to Natural History, my recommendation is to head down there on a Thursday or Friday night, enjoy a meal and a few drinks, and stick around for piano man Matt Ganim from 8pm. He is a talented and engaging musician, who is equally talented at reading a crowd and selecting just the right song to play (and he takes requests).
Piano man Matt Ganim plays on Thursday and Friday nights
We had a thoroughly enjoyable night at the Natural History Public Bar. The venue was somehow so immersive that I felt transported to another time and place. I know we will be finding a reason to pop in again very soon.
It is open Monday to Friday from 7.30am to 11.00pm (cafe open 7.30am to 11.00pm, bar open 11.30am to 11.00pm, kitchen open 12 noon to 3.00pm and 5.00pm to 9.00pm). (Open for private functions only on weekends.)
Click here to make an online booking, or call them on (03) 9982 1811.
The images in this article were taken by the writer.