This is the first meal I had in years that I haven’t planned myself. Chris has kindly agreed to take over the organising of our Friday date nights, so I can sit back and unwind a little from the week, before having to head into work for an 8 hour shift the next day. I’ve completely forgotten the excitement of walking into a restaurant, and having no idea what to expect. Ok well that’s not completely true. I may not have planned this visit to 1000£ Bend, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t read about it plenty in the past.
The claim to this being one of the most unique spaces in Melbourne is justified. At first glance it seems to be a perfectly generic grungy cafe, but upon closer inspection it actually doubles as a bar.
|Warehouse At The Back
And an art gallery. And a warehouse cinema. And a place to hear everything from acoustic guitar to street opera. And there’s pilates upstairs every Thursday.
1000£ Bend is popular with both impoverished students and the older crowd thanks to its laid back service and chillaxed atmosphere, where you’re almost expected to linger over your coffee. And let’s not forget the free Wi-Fi and board games. On a sunny Friday afternoon, the big warehouse space at the back is abandoned, with all the action happening at the front of house. It’s loud, it’s warm, and it’s just a little bit boisterous thanks to the copious amounts of beer downed by the TGIF crowd.
The menu here is short and sweet; half of which are breakfast options, and the other half can be described as bar food with a twist. There are no beef burgers, only kangaroo or saganaki. There are no garden salads, only buckwheat noodles with marinated tofu. But it was the Share Plate for Two ($24) that caught our fancy that night.
|Share Platter for Two ($24)
Uh-huh. How good does it look?
The long rectangular plate was piled high with thick slices of chorizo, squeaky golden slabs of pan-fried saganaki, deli ham and olives and sundried tomatoes and peppers…
… and thin slices of feta, eggplant dip and some hommus, all topped off with a tangle of rocket.
Not to mention a whole bowl of lightly toasted and incredibly moreish fingers of sourdough. The highlights of the platter were definitely the juicy chorizo and the generous serve of salty saganaki. Everything else from the platter was pretty standard, the kind of stuff you could get from the Safeway deli. It was a perfect dinner for a warm Friday night, though towards the end the salt and oil began to get to us, and we longed for some greenery to cut through it all. Or a cold beer. Maybe that was their plan all along, those sneaky, clever people.
I don’t know what it is about 1000£ Bend that made the experience so enjoyable. The food was good but not fabulous, the service is friendly but languid, we didn’t manage to snag one of the comfortable couches, and by the time we left the music was verging on too loud. But despite all that (or is it because of all that), I had a great time there. It feels like the cool hang-out you’ve always wished for as a kid but never had.
Rating: 13.5/20 – 1000£ more than the sum of its parts