Harley and Rose: a 1990 song by Australian blues band The Black Sorrows.

Also Harley and Rose: a forthcoming restaurant from Josh Murphy and Rory Cowcher on the old Ovest pizza site in West Footscray. The two chefs met in 2005 while cooking at Andrew McConnell’s Three, One, Two in Carlton. That was the last time they worked together before going on to run the kitchens at the Builders Arms Hotel and Cutler & Co., respectively.

“The initial idea was to do a bar, which we researched for some time,” Cowcher says. “But as we were looking around for sites, this one came up and we saw a lot of potential in it. From there the idea came together really, really easily.”

The chefs are stripping the building back to its original structure with help from design studio Projects of Imagination and builder Duo Built. They want the resulting restaurant to be a casual neighbourhood sort of place, rather than an expensive, cross-town-for destination (though people undoubtedly will). To that end the menu will feature grilled meats, lots of salads and simple snacks such as cured meats and cheese. A few wood-fired pizzas will also be available, though it’s “not a pizza restaurant.”

Helpfully, neither partner has been in a permanent job for several months. “Because we’ve had so much time in the lead up to this, we’ve really been able to focus on sourcing the best parmesan in Australia, the best ham, that kind of thing,” Murphy says.

Cowcher agrees: “We’ve also had a lot of time to cook on our Webers at home and really pare things back and think about cooking a little bit differently to the way we have in the past.”

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The building’s existing takeaway licence will be put to use in an attached bottle-o offering a mix of trendy natural bottles and more classic wines from small, conscientious producers at reasonable prices. Mark Williamson (ex-Cumulus Inc. and Builders Arms) has signed on as wine buyer and restaurant manager, so the list and accompanying service are likely to be sharp.

Harley and Rose is due to open in November.

Harley and Rose
572 Barkly Street, West Footscray

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