As I walk up the stairs to Seamore’s in Henley Beach – the latest venture from the Vanzati family, which also owns local joints Hermanos Cubanos, Malobo and Swedish Tarts (plus New Nordic in Prospect) – I’m wondering if their luck will run out. Surely Henley has quenched its thirst for new venues? And yet, as I round the corner of the sprawling space – with its pastel pink and baby-blue walls, Italian marble bar tops, striking archways and large windows looking out to the ocean – I reckon it’ll find its place after all.
Mattis Vanzati (who co-owns Seamore’s with his brother Lukas Vanzati) says it’s a modern take on the “classic surf clubs of 20, 30 years ago”. They’re aiming to create a hybrid bar-restaurant that bridges that awkward gap between afternoon and evening service.
The space had a 20-year run as Sandbar nightclub until its owners (who also operate the ground-floor restaurant Thai Orchid) turned it into a functions-only venue five years ago. It’s been largely dormant since then.
“Looking across the square at this building every day and seeing it empty … we’ve had ideas brewing for a long time,” Vanzati told Broadsheet when we first paid a visit to the site in April. “When [the previous owners] stopped running it as a nightclub that did leave this night-life gap.”
Despite the proliferation of new eateries and bars in the area, Vanzati thinks there’s room for a venue such as Seamore’s – an approachable space for diners and imbibers of all stripes.
The expansive, 260-person-capacity venue is loosely broken up into several areas, with a DJ booth and a dance floor (with a disco ball) on one side, and a wide outdoor balcony (with its own bar) overlooking Henley Square on the other, plus a mix of booths and a tables in the centre.
The redesign (lead by Lukas, a designer, and Mattis) revolves around the site’s best asset – the ocean view – while preserving the building’s 100-year-old bones. The once “dark and dank” interior has been livened up with fresh paint and greenery throughout. Soft colours, loud paintings and plush leather booths are all intended to make Seamore’s suitable for any sort of outing. Come for a long boozy lunch, a casual dinner or a few drinks.
“You’re more than welcome to come here and just have a beer or a cocktail,” says Vanzati. But with chef Chris Zechmeister (ex-Enzo’s) turning out a menu described as “New York-Italian meets Australian surf club”, you’d be missing half the point.
Neapolitan-ish pizzas and house-made pastas (which are rare to find out west, says Vanzati) comprise the bulk of the menu. There are also meatball and parmigiana hoagies, share plates and pub classics.
The pizzas – simply listed on the menu as #1 through #8 – reinforce the venue’s focus on approachability, with familiar favourites such as margherita and even a smoked ham and pineapple with smoked scamorza.
The cocktail list includes four different types of spritzes and a few fruit-forward signature concoctions, plus classics such as Bellinis, Margaritas and Mojitos. Barrel-aged Old Fashioneds and Negronis – on-tap – round out the list.
As for the wine, expect a 50/50 split of local, mostly Italian varieties and imported Italian wines. Tap beers include an Asahi-brewed house session ale.
255 Esplanade, Henley Beach
Mon to Sun 11am until late