If you’ve driven through Newstead recently, you might have noticed works being done on the old hangars on Stratton Street. The substantial renovations are being carried out by Tarryn and Ben Brown – Newstead locals and owners of Mrs Brown’s Bar & Kitchen around the corner – to bring their second venue, Stratton Bar & Kitchen, to life.
It almost didn’t happen. “It’s a no, the answer is no – look at the year we’ve just had,” was Tarryn’s first response when Ben floated opening a new venue at the end of 2020. That same afternoon the couple went to inspect the space, which was previously occupied – for 37 years – by a commercial kitchen. “As soon as I walked in, I was like, ‘Oh my god, I love it’,” she tells Broadsheet.
The couple took over the World War II-era building – next to much-loved music venue The Triffid – in March 2021. Covid-19 nerves, council regulations and supply issues haven’t made it easy, but an opening date is finally scheduled for the end of this month.
The 920-square-metre site is housed inside the two hangars, which will keep their original steel arches (or “ribs” as Brown calls them). The industrial-style space – comprising a bar, dining room, function area and sun-roofed courtyard – will be charcoal and black, with pops of colour. It'll have a different feel to the open-air space, plants and warm timber of Mrs Brown’s, but laid-back dining and friendly service is still front of mind.
“We still want it to be casual, we still don’t want it to be super exclusive – that’s not really our thing. Other people do that really well, but that’s not really our vibe,” says Tarryn.
On the menu, expect a similar ethos to Mrs Brown’s – cuisine-crossing dishes such as cacio e pepe udon, chicken-karaage milk buns, potato skins with manchego cheese, and woodfired pizzas.
Stratton’s large footprint has also allowed the team to build a bar designed with cocktail-making in mind (expect more than 30 options to choose from, including booze-free numbers). “Post-Covid, I think everyone worked out that you can open a bottle of wine and a beer but it’s actually hard to make a really good cocktail,” says Tarryn.
The beer and wine list will be pared back – compared to Mrs Brown’s extensive list of 24 tap beers and 150 wines – and will be informed by the local hospitality community. An assyrtiko imported from Greece by neighbouring restaurant Santorini on Kyabra Street and an Italian import from Locale on Commercial Road will both make their way onto the menu.