Crafty Pint / 01.08.12
Of all the works in Michael Palin’s oeuvre, the TV drama East of Ipswich is probably among the least well known. Based on memories of his holidays in miserable British east coast holiday towns, enlivened by a sexual awakening courtesy of a young Dutch girl, its name was derived from an acknowledgement that, to an adventurous 17-year-old at least, there was little of interest once you moved east of Ipswich.
A similar though process – albeit shorn of promiscuous Dutch girls as far as we’re aware – seems to have gone into the naming of Melbourne’s newest craft beer friendly venture. East of Everything opened its doors a week ago in Camberwell, with more than a nod and a wink to the fact that, even today, you don’t have to travel too far from Melbourne’s heart to find few bars of interest to the discerning punter. It’s upstairs from the owners' first venture, Bar None, the cocktail bar that truly was east of absolutely everything when it first opened its underground doors the best part of a decade ago.
Brother and sister duo Gen and Michael Cotter originally opened the second venue upstairs in the summer of 2010/11 but a fire gutted the building within two weeks of opening, leading to the closure of both bars. Bar None reopened late last year, accompanied by the launch of Michael’s Gumbo Kitchen food truck, with East of Everything the last piece of the jigsaw.
“[When we first took over upstairs] it was going to be a function space,” says Gen. “After the fire, we completely rethought it. The area needed an interesting restaurant and we wanted to focus on interesting beers. We’ve always had an extensive beer list [in Bar None] and the plan upstairs is to keep changing the taps.”
There are six of them protruding from white tiles behind the wall of a bar that combines an industrial feel with elements of British tavern, hospital theatre and the sort of veranda where you could imagine Greta Scacchi donning period attire and supping gin and tonic “purely to keep the mozzies off, daaahling”. Five of the taps were pouring quality craft beers – both local and imported – when we called in, with a cider on the other, while the bottle list was equally colourful.
“Downstairs is all table service,” says Gen. “Up here we’re trying to create a more casual bar vibe.”
For now, the Gumbo Kitchen is providing food at weekends, with the full kitchen due to open in a few weeks. The menu will be “pan-American – from the USA to Argentina and Central America” and certainly featuring plenty to accompany good beer.
With the likes of The Scratch in Brisbane, the many Sydney bars mentioned in last week’s feature on this site and a growing scene in Hobart that we’ll be bringing you news on soon showing Melbourne isn’t the only Aussie capital doing small bars well, it’s nice to welcome another one into the fold. Especially when it’s one that’s bringing craft beer to a place even Michael Palin hasn’t visited yet.
East of Everything is upstairs from Bar None at 72 Auburn Parade, Camberwell.