Melbourne’s latest bar offering sets sail for flavour country
Photography by Nick Hibbins
Level One, Corner Flinders and King Streets, Melbourne
03 9626 1350
The Galley Room, which officially embarked on its maiden voyage in March, is the latest slick cocktail lounge to grace the Melbourne scene. The venture is a new offering from the Waterside Group – led by GM Stuart Wigney – who are behind venues like The Waterside Hotel, The Deck and The Hotel Brighton.
The Galley Room itself is wedged in between The Waterside Hotel and The Deck. The bar’s manager, Jason Williams, makes sure we’re savvy with the nautical theme.
“The Waterside Hotel… has a strong heritage with the docks when the Yarra was used to transport goods into the city,” explains Williams. “Also the galley is traditionally found deep in the heart of the ship, where you’ll find the kitchen and quite often where the crew would meet to drink, snack and to catch up for a chat.”
The Galley Room was opened to “round out” the Waterside precinct.
“It gives us an opportunity to offer a product at another level and accesses another demographic,” Williams says. “We wanted to created a higher standard of offering within the Waterside Hotel.”
“The only swaying motion at The Galley Room comes from you over indulging in their extensive drinks offering.”
Well the space designed by Iva Foschia of IF Architecture with assistance of Projects of Imagination, is certainly going to be conducive to attracting a cocktail-sipping-tapas-nibbling crowd.
The space used to hold the hotel’s accommodation. “Prior to any design work commencing there was considerable demolition works undertaken which saw the removal of all the double solid brick walls that divided the space,” Foschia tells us.
Once the space was gutted Foschia told us that the only element remaining was the windows with their diamond shaped timber mouldings.
“The diamond has infiltrated the space through the embodiment of the architectural details and the references that the diamond is associated with,” Foschia explains.
Stained American oak timber flooring and timber lining boards laid diagonally on the walls and ceiling and the custom carpet, along with stone detailing and faceting all ties into this theme. The diamond has even infiltrated the bars logo used on menus and website creative.
Foschia re-assures us that “the aim was to create a cocktail bar that was approachable yet exuded a calm, understated luxury.”
And approachable the dark marble bar is indeed. Fortunately for you land-lubbers you’ll not be in need of any sea legs either. The only swaying motion at The Galley Room comes from you over indulging in their extensive drinks offering or attempting to entice a young sea nymph with jig as the music gets your feet tapping the weekends.
“Cocktails are a focus but there is a genuine passion for all drinks served at The Galley Room, whether it is a beer, wine, cocktail or spirit,” comments Williams. “We love making and talking cocktails though and our bar is designed and presented in a way that encourages the appreciation of the craft of bartending and the consumption of fine cocktails.”
Signature drinks include; “Galley Room Grog” with Pussers and 1O Cane rums, blueberry syrup, maple syrup, citrus and bitters or the “Whoopsy Daisy” containing chamomile infused Wild Turkey bourbon, white crème de cacao, Cointreau and lemon juice.
But as Williams has told us it ain’t just about the cocktails. The beer offering is spiked with loads of local flavour like Kooinda Pale Ale and Holgate White Ale as a cheek Belgium here (Duvel) and a cheeky Sri Lankan there (Sinha Stout). The wine list isn’t all that international, but the offering is intelligent with wines by the glass all coming in at under a tener (except for Champagne).
Of course being a ‘Galley’ this venue has a generous food offering too. The menu, designed by executive head chef, Darren McKinlay, has sharing in mind, but the hungry are not forgotten. You can indulge in a Wagyu Kobe Beef Burger, Pizza Marinara or staff favourite Kransky Hot Dog (a bargain to at $6.50 a pop).
“Our night menu is called ‘night sailing’,” explains Williams. “There is about ten items in the ‘small plates’ and ‘down the hatch’ sections with dishes such as a seafood tempura basket, chicken, leek and gouda croquettes and light stuff to snack such as stuffed fried green olives and anchovy cigars.”
As far as the service goes you couldn’t really be in safer hands either – Mr Williams is no stranger to these pages having made the Top 10 in the Bartender Magazine Bartender of the Year Competition for the last three years as well as being placed third twice. Williams also boasts an impressive CV having managed Ginger and Sarti, working behind the stick Blue Diamond, and helping set up Seamstress and SweatShop.
Jason is pretty happy with the team he has managed to pull together too: “We have on the team Ryan Scoble, Jess Pugh, Sean Baxter and Nadia Said. Ryan previously worked at Platform 3 and Berlin and was recently a finalist in the ‘Craft’ mentoring program. Jess has worked at Rick’s in Edinburgh, Green & Red in London, Bayswater Brasserie, Sydney and Maya and Blue Diamond in Melbourne. Nadia has come from Family and Cloudland in Brisbane and Stamford Plaza in Melbourne.”
“All that aside,” continues Jason “we have an awesome team that we are all so happy to be a part of. We’re all friends, we’re constantly having a laugh and are very supportive of each other. We work hard, love what we do and love working with our guests and each other.”
The important question is whether or Williams thinks the venue will be a success.
“There are many things that are going to make The Galley Room work, but here are some big ones: The pride and love we put into our product. We love presenting our drinks and food and that means we will always have a high standard. This attitude comes through with our service and the relationship we have with our guests. The Galley Room is all about creating ‘that experience’ for the people we host.”