Food and Drink


The Moat Floats Our Boat

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The Wheeler Centre’s a pretty classy joint. They host a jammed-packed calendar of literature talks, events and discussions throughout the year, and all that’s thirsty work. Well, now the bookworms have a place to unwind after the latest launch, downstairs at The Moat Bar and Cafe.

Sitting snugly beneath the centre, the Moat is designed as an extension of the Wheeler’s aesthetic and mojo (though it’s more fun because you can drink.) Inside the subterranean space walls are lined with kitsch bookshelf wallpaper, real bookshelves are lined with teacups and a huge image of a moth drinking tea is painted above the open kitchen.

It feels cozy, the type of place you could easily drop the word ‘juxtapose’ in conversation while sipping a cognac. Plus there’s something nice about dining below street level and seeing all those legs walk past.

Owners Paul Bonet, Emma Jeffrey and Rosie Avitable ran Breadwell before deciding on The Moat, and they’re aiming to make the new space reflect what’s upstairs while keeping its own identity.

That means they’ll be high teas, an in-house poet who’ll will compose custom poems (presumably for absinthe) and a book exchange. I’d also expect the odd guest speaker at the Wheeler to drop by too (hot tip: Neil Gaiman’s talking on Dec 16).

And there’s food and drink too. Emma Jeffrey (ex-Matteo’s, Fenix, Reserve) has built a menu around Italian and Middle Eastern influences. Options range from the no-nonsense Meatballs in Napoli ($18) and Farmers Plate of ham hock broth, cucumber and apple relish, cheese and bread ($17) to the fancier Moondarra Wagyu salami, goats cheese custard and beetroot cured watermelon ($18). Breakfasts arrive next week.

Drink-wise, the coffee comes from the eco-friendly dudes at Espresso Syndicate and there’s the usual beers, wines and hard liquor.

One of the neatest aspects of the Moat is the astroturf-lined outdoor ‘beer strip’. It’s rumoured tennis tournament are planned, though I’d like to see beer pong and putting. We’ll see what the bookworms decide.

The Moat Bar and Cafe
176 Lt Lonsdale St, Melbourne
9094 7820
Mon – Fri 8am to late
Sat 12 noon to late
Closed Sundays

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