103 Lonsdale Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 3 9077 0451
Now that Melbourne’s weather has somewhat stabilised into a constant stream of 30+ degree days, it’s time for us summer-loving folk to rejoice. By rejoice, of course, I mean going to one of Melbourne’s many rooftop bars to soak up some alcohol, some nibbles and extended periods of sunshine once we’ve left the office for the day. The Aylesbury‘s rooftop bar is one place that I’d recommend if someone asked me what a good rooftop bar was. Situated above The Aylesbury restaurant, it’s accessible only by lift and as soon as the doors open on the fifth floor, you’re greeted by an L-shaped copper-topped bar with a small grazing area on the side. It’s all very small and intimate, which I like – though on Friday nights, it’s pretty much standing room only.
Dave and I went here twice in one week which shows how much we liked this place. Okay, not really. The first time, we went because we wanted dessert after eating at Kokoro Ramen and we visited a second time because we were planning to meet friends for dinner at the downstairs restaurant – and we, like losers, happened to be 45 minutes early. During our visit, we got to try a decent selection of the bar food that the rooftop had to offer, all while soaking in the very relaxed atmosphere. As we sipped our rather overpriced wines (I ordered a Vinteloper riesling from Clare Valley, not exactly a steal at $12 despite it being a very nice white while Dave went for a shiraz), we checked out the talent in the building – mostly young, urban professionals and most likely Spring Street-ers and Casselden Place-ers.
When you order several savoury snacks, some complimentary bread and olive oil will be provided. I’m not sure if I liked the bread – it was too hard and tasted very bland, but I did love the extremely rich and fruity olive oil that they gave us.
We started off with a serving of Joselito Gran Reserva Iberico jamon (20g for $18). This type of jamon comes from Iberican pigs which have been fed acorns. The result is dark, rosy-hued ham that’s as sleek and as oily as a muzza’s hair. At first bite, the ham is firm but it then gives way before melting into your mouth like a very, very salty butter. I loved it.
We had a prawn roll each ($8 each). While they weren’t enormous by any standards, they certainly did pack a punch – and Dave even went as far to say that they were better than the apparently OMG-SO-GOOD lobster rolls that they serve at Andrew McConnell’s Golden Fields. Having not been to Golden Fields prior to this point in time, I couldn’t really verify Dave’s claim (he’s probably the only person who hasn’t food-gasmed over these bloody lobster rolls).
I can, however, say that these prawn rolls were pretty damn good. Two small bun halves secured thick chunks of juicy Shark Bay prawns, bits of lettuce, fennel, parsley and aioli. Meanwhile, a squirt of lemon juice helped balanced things out and also brought out the prawns’ natural sweetness. Ooh yes, more please!
The last savoury nibble we tried were the smoked eel and horseradish croquetta ($3.50 each). I’m a sucker for croquettes, and even more so when they have fancy, Spanish names. They were beautifully crunchy on the outside, and amazingly silky on the inside. Neither Dave and I could taste the horseradish and the smokiness was only subtle at best, as the cheese drowned out much of the flavouring. Nevertheless, I still thought these were pretty tasty and I wouldn’t hesitate to order these again.
Now for desserts. First up, a granita, citrus and yoghurt ($7). For some reason, the menu description for this dish was really vague. What on earth was so hard about telling us what FLAVOUR the granita was, and what sort of ‘citrus’ they used?! Upon tasting the dish, we discovered that it was a grapefruit granita (like they couldn’t tell us?) which was then placed on top of a dollop of creamy yoghurt before being garnished with a slice of nectarine and shredded mint leaves. The whole thing worked very well, and although it wasn’t a terribly hot evening when we had it, it melted faster than a Fernando Verdasco serve.
Finally, we had churros with chocolate sauce ($10). Unfortunately, I couldn’t say I liked them much. Yeah, they were crunchy on the outside but the insides were pretty dense with overcooked dough, and not light. They were also coated with so much sugar that dipping them into the very rich chocolate sauce was unnecessary – I spent quite a lot of time trying to dust off as much sugar as I could from the donuts. It goes without saying that they were not even half as good as the Spanish donuts they serve at Queen Vic Market *sad face*
The bar snacks at The Aylesbury ranged from ‘meh’ to delicious, but as long as we stick to what we liked (the jamon, the prawn burgers and the croquettes), then Dave and I would have no problems making this our home for post-work drinks and nibbles. The wines may be expensive by the glass (and looking at their online menu now, by the bottle too), but that’s no reason to not give their cocktails a go. Sure, the view might not be the best in the city – unless you think Casselden Place is an example of architectural genius and if you think Lonsdale Street is as pretty as a picture – but the intimate surroundings, the eye candy and all that lovely jamon certainly makes up for it.