Poodle Bar & Bistro
Poodle is spread over two levels inside a pair of side-by-side Victorian buildings on Fitzroy’s Gertrude Street.
Prior to opening Poodle, head chef Josh Fry spent the seven years cooking at some of Melbourne’s best restaurants, including Andrew McConnell’s neighbouring wine bar Marion, and Cumulus Inc in Flinders Lane.
The menu is full of zhooshed-up, old-world hotel classics.Snack-wise, there are Sydney Rock oysters, served natural or with acqua pazza (a tomato, chilli and smoked fish dressing), and prawn cocktails in dainty Martini glasses served with prawns delicately hanging over the edge. Plus, tins of smoked sardines, anchovies and baby octopi; house-made charcuterie; vol-au-vents (French-style pastry cases) topped with salmon roe; and celeriac and potato pave (thinly sliced and pressed into a buttery brick).
The cocktail list is short and includes a Wet Poodle (a wet Martini) and a Poodle Spritz (an aperitivo of your choice topped with prosecco and soda).
Light-rye sourdough is made in-house with excess coffee grinds and served with kefir butter and pickled baby vegetables. The cream base is also the bed for the sliced trout, which is cured for 12 hours with beetroot and dill and is served with horseradish and bottarga.More substantial is the club sandwich, made with chicken-fat-brushed bread that’s toasted and layered with crispy chicken skin, ham-hock terrine, iceberg, tomato, and tarragon mayo. Or there’s the honeycomb tripe à la Poodle with parmesan rind, pancetta and butter beans. And the pan-roasted roast chicken comes on braised black cabbage, topped with a heap of sliced truffle.
For dessert, a chocolate bombe Alaska is set alight at the table. It’s part chocolate, part olive-oil parfait on an olive-oil sponge, all cased in meringue.
The fit-out is by design studio Bergman & Co and blends European elements with a touch of kitsch Aussie-Italian suburban. (An elaborate Franco Cozzo sideboard would not feel too out of place).
Brick walls were knocked out between the two buildings, creating two distinct spaces. Downstairs, one side is dominated by a marble-topped bar, and grand wooden archways lead into a dining room with glass dividers creating privacy between tables. Out the back is a terracotta-tiled courtyard, and a walk-in cellar. The dark-green, teal and pink palette continues into a second bar upstairs, and there are chequered floors, hanging wooden fans, and slatted wooden ceilings throughout. Leather banquettes and gold velvet couches encourage settling in for the long haul.