Like so much of the inner city, North Melbourne is gradually gaining more and more interesting places to eat and drink, all with an urban sensibility and a commitment to quality, flavour and fun. Agraba opened just before Christmas and is offering authentic Lebanese mezze, fancy cocktails and some cool tunes with a DIY lush feel.
“We created this place on a budget,” says project manager Josh Hardy. “The stools are from Ikea. I bought the wine boxes on the wall and stained them, and this lamp,” he says, pointing to a corner-bar centrepiece, “is from a junkyard.”
The small room, with its 30 or so chairs inside and out, feels cosy and personable – helped out by the fact that Hardy and bar manager Matt Nicholas have really put their own stamp on the place. The place itself is owned by Tony Rizk, who also owns Errol’s Cafe just a few doors down. He initially wanted to serve pizza as there was originally a wood-fired oven in the room, which is no longer there.
“I said to him ‘let’s make it work without pizza’. Tony’s Lebanese and this is his culture’s food,” says Josh.
Cooking in the small kitchen is a cheeky but charming Lebanese woman named Hanan, who has been cooking Lebanese food her whole life. With this authentic cuisine, along with inner-city touches (bring your own vinyl to play if you wish) and good Turkish coffee, let’s hope Agraba taps into the potential of its location and its product.
Agraba Bar and Mezze
63 Errol Street, North Melbourne
(03) 9329 0058