Difficult to say, difficult to find, challenging to climb and interesting to discover – a general summation of the better portion of Melbourne’s laneway bars. This new laneway spot, born from the minds of those responsible for the shabby container bar that is Section 8, delivers on all of the aforementioned points to claim its laneway bar status.
Situated on the corner of Lonsdale Street and Tattersalls Lane, both Section 8 and Touché Hombre should be your landmarks should you get lost. Enter an unassuming side door and scale two flights of stairs, taking in the street art that adorns the walls and you’ll find the expansive attic that is Ferdydurke. Named after a 1930s surrealist Polish novel, the quirk of the name does much to match the venue.
The space itself is perched in the top of the building, showing exposed brick and pushing into ‘New York loft’ territory, without the clichéd evocations that generally support the use of the descriptor. There are well thought out touches, showing quirkiness but also quality in the construction. The re-used scaffolding behind the bar is as inventive as it is archaic, matched with the floating glass windows guarding the arches at the front of the space. The use of space on the first floor for a balcony ensures you can smoke outside and allows the owners to keep a birds eye view on their original venture.
The expansive drinks list, penned in a bright pink hue, reads much like an almanac of classic cocktails. In alphabetical order, the drinks explore options that are on-trend including classics such as original daiquiris or the ‘Boulevadier’ (a rye based negroni). They come over the bar in a timely fashion and well made. And if you can’t decide, the knowledgeable staff are forthcoming with suggestions devoid of pretension.
In keeping with the idiosyncrasies of the venue, the beer list starts with pony sized Carlton Draught and finishes with beers above $20. There is however little in between. Alhambra Spanish lager lands at $10, while Belgian and Japanese selections push the price beyond $15 (surely a conscious effort to differentiate themselves from the longneck drinkers of Section 8 below).
The Vietnamese menu seems almost at odds with the rest of the offering, but that’s probably the point. Fresh banh mi, pho and rice paper rolls make a nice change to the typical bar food available in similar settings.
As the week wears on, rock playlists evolve into DJ sets, playing tunes and keeping the crowd right up until 1am. With smatterings of tall stools, it’s certainly not set out like a club, but presents a great balance for people that love to have a good time but also appreciate good drinks.
So next time you’re in a Section 8 mood, or you’re taking friends from out of town on a quintessential Melbourne tour (which includes ‘that container bar’), have a look around for Ferdydurke. It’s worth the find and worth the climb.
Levels 1 & 2, 239 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
(03) 9639 3750
For the rest of this week, daily 5pm-1am