Tucked beneath the Wheeler Centre’s Little Lonsdale entrance (hence the name), The Moat bar and cafe has established itself independently as a food and wine destination. Just off the footpath, the sunken outdoor terrace is immediately welcoming with faux-wicker chairs, potted herbs and bright green AstroTurf, giving a kitschy, French-picnic feel to this very inner city location.
Inside the intimate bunker-like space, a long, glossy, brass-topped bar and bright, open kitchen – which features a huge lithograph image of a ‘tea moth’ by local artist Peter Robertson – skirt one side of the space. The fit-out by local designer Christo Gillard is respectful of the building’s strict heritage overlay and features rich tones of gold and deep reds. Book-lined walls and dark wood furnishings evoke images of a classic private library. Lovely old sepia-toned pianola scrolls have been up-cycled to create gorgeously warm light shades, which speak words of love, romance and sadness.
The space was designed to encourage conversation (and what better way to start the conversation than with a good book?), customers are encouraged to “bring a book, take a book”, which involves exchanging a good book of their own with one from The Moat’s communal book case.
With its flexible Euro/Middle Eastern menu, The Moat attracts plenty of State Library and Wheeler Centre regulars, while the 1am licensing and share-friendly late night suppers keep them there.