Like a confused teenager trying to find out who it really is, the sixth floor of Curtin House has undergone many an erratic transformation in recent times. It has been an office space, an artist’s studio, Rooftop Cinema’s box office, a pop-up champagne bar and in it’s latest incarnation, Mesa Verde, a lively Mesoamerican bar that also does food. Owner Tim Peach, executive chef Kath Reed and head cocktail bartender Andy Griffiths have transformed Curtin House’s last unclaimed block of real estate into a carefully considered establishment built for good times. It feels like the sixth floor’s coming of age.

If you’re athletic enough to make it up the infamous Curtin House stairs, we think you’ve earned something substantial from the tasty dinner and bar snack menu. The daunting tequila list is not to be taken lightly (or on an empty stomach), and the Margaritas even come with a choice of eight salts. That said, a healthy smattering of playful touches ensures that the thoughtful, quality fare isn’t served with a side of a pretension. Between a snack-size cheeseburger (conjured up as an ode to America’s White Castle fast food chain) and the bartenders’ vibrantly coloured T-shirts (which Griffiths calls “the polar opposite of a traditional cocktail uniform”) designed by local label PAM, it’s difficult not to feel relaxed here.

Although the bar might aim for a casual air, no detail has been overlooked. Take the cutlery for example, which takes the form of repurposed wares courtesy of local jeweller Marcos Davidson, ensuring the journey from plate to mouth is both aesthetically and gastronomically beautiful.

“Marcos has taken something that was not originally a precious gem, reinterpreted it and somehow presented a really special, unique object,” says Reed of the artfully twisted knives and forks.

Her observation could just as aptly describe the transformation of an overlooked, vacant Curtin House floor into the now flourishing Mesa Verde bar and eatery. This once lost adolescent is ready for her big debut.

Mesa Verde
Level 6, Curtin House, 252 Swanston Street, Melbourne
(03) 9654 4417

Tues to Sun 5pm–1am