It’s a common conundrum: you’re a couple of wines deep at Loc, it’s past dinnertime and there's a group of hungry faces at your table. Do you stay and order one more or leave the happy setting to find some late-night food? Come August, you won't have to choose. The pint-sized wine bar is finally introducing dinner.
While Loc has hosted boozy brunches, sausage sizzles, pizza nights and more, its daily menu has stuck to small bites like cheese, lavosh crackers, tinned fish and bread to sustain imbibers pre- or post-dinner. But owner Olivia Moore always intended to amp up the food offering.
“From day one I wanted to do food, it just wasn’t really possible in the way we’re going to do it,” says Moore, who’s always operated the bar without a kitchen.
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Following a minor kitchen upgrade, chef Tom Campbell, who co-steered The Summertown Aristologist until last year, is coming on board in the first of a series of chef residencies.
The tiny kitchen (basically two induction cookers and a newly installed electric oven) will be a radical departure from the fully kitted-out kitchen and hearth at his previous workplace. But he's making good use of the facilities with a provincial-style menu of simple, produce-driven dishes such as hand-rolled pastas, trippa alla Romana, leeks in vinaigrette, vegetable escabeche, braised beans and aioli, beef tartare, and lots of seafood.
The resident chef will rotate every few months, so the style and cuisine will change regularly. “It’s flexible but the style of consumption is small, easy, quick [and] can be added to, to create a whole meal, or you can just have a bite if you already have a booking elsewhere,” says Moore.
In addition to the kitchen upgrades, there’s been some recent changes to the fit-out inside. The bench seating against the wall has made way for new timber booths and larger tables – built by furniture maker Gabe Turner – for guests who want to settle in.
“I’ve always wanted to make it a bit more cosy inside,” says Moore. “We’re really lucky with the outside area, everyone gravitates towards that, but I love the space inside and in both winter and summer I want it to be more inviting.”
Seats – inside and outside – will be available for walk-ins only. With the introduction of food, the drinks menu will also evolve, including the debut of a physical wine list and some sake options to pair with dinner.
Loc dinner will be available from August 3, from 5pm Thursdays to Sundays.