You could easily walk past Milney’s in Fitzroy. It has no signage except for a small painted M on the front door, and has been kept under the radar by its owners since it opened a few months ago. Sitting on the corner of Brunswick Street and Alexandra Parade, the courtyard-diner is a joint venture by Monty Mullooly-Hill and Paul Milne (co-owners of much-loved neighbourhood bar Monty’s in Fitzroy North) and Rochelle Hutchinson (who previously worked at Joe’s Shoe Store, which in many ways created the template for Monty's). Mullooly-Hill is also a co-owner at late-night diner Bar Romantica in Brunswick East.

Although Milney’s is just up the road from Monty’s, “the two spaces have different design languages,” Mullooly-Hill tells Broadsheet. “There are some similarities, but Milney’s definitely has its own personality.” It also has more extensive food and drink menus. Since Milney’s opened the food menu has been evolving. “We were still building a vibe and finding our feet,” explains Mullooly-Hill. “We took the time to do it 100 per cent how we wanted.”

At Monty’s, pizzas come from 1000 Lire next door, but at Milney’s, they’ve brought their menu collaborators in-house – this time working with James Eddy of CBD gnocchi shop Good Gnocchi and Tom Kernot (who has worked at Hell of the North and Burnside).

Eddy’s concept here is called Good Spaghetti. The menu will have a few permanent cheap classics and some slightly pricier options. “We’ll always have a couple of $10 spaghettis on to keep an entry-level price for those nights when you’re broke as heck but hungry as heck too,” says Mullooly-Hill. Expect $4 garlic bread and $10 Napoli spaghetti, as well as a couple of $15 options, such as walnut pesto and bolognaise. The spaghetti is made fresh at Pasta Classica on Smith Street and it's all vegan too.

Kernot’s menu offers wacky snacks, all served with potato chips. Mullooly-Hill says there are flavours “that go really well [together], but you’d never consider putting them together”, such as sliced mortadella with currywurst sauce ($10), and a plate of Ossetra caviar served with sour-cream-and-chive Pringles ($90).

To drink there’s a $10 pint of Milney’s lager on tap, a few imported canned beers, and a solid list of local beers from Bodriggy, Stomping Ground and Hop Nation. There are three wines on tap (all sourced from Victorian wineries such as Little Reddie, Minim Wine and Boomtown) and another six by the bottle.

The cocktail list has a few old classics and some new inventions. “[We] found some really bizarre classics from way back in the day, plus [there are] a few freaky ones that Rochelle has come up with,” says Mullooly-Hill. One sour cocktail for example uses skinos – a Greek liqueur made from the resin of the mastiha tree found on the Greek island of Chios. New drinks include the Café D’Angelo – cold-drip coffee, Campari and sweet vermouth stirred over ice and served with a wedge of orange.

Despite the considered drinks list and bar, Milney’s is all about relaxed outdoor dining. It has a huge courtyard – about 80 square metres – with a tape deck in the corner playing an eclectic range of cassettes ranging from classic ’80s Grace Jones to Angst Fest 2.0 – a compilation by Ångström Space, an Abbotsford-based event curator and design studio.

The interior and courtyard were designed by architects Jean-Marie Spencer and Todd de Hoog. “It’s really jungly, lush and lovely,” says Mullooly-Hill. “There’s a lot of timber inside and then we wanted to use rendered brick outside – tactile surfaces that are comfortable and nice to touch.”

There’s a fish tank, booth tables and ceramic vases from Camberwell market inside, plus throughout the space are a bunch of frog knick-knacks gifted by friends who call the bar “the frog” after a large mural on the two-story courtyard wall. The mural was designed by local artist Ben Jones with help from fellow artist Julian Hocking (they also designed the menus and the small graphic M on the front door).

Upstairs you’ll find the headquarters of the all-women Melbourne zine Ladies of Leisure. They hold regular events in the space, and Milney’s is planning a few food-related workshop collaborations over the summer too.

451b Brunswick St, Fitzroy
(03) 7014 4057

Tue to Fri 5pm–10pm
Sat & Sun 4pm–10pm

This article first appeared on Broadsheet on November 27, 2019. Menu items and prices may have changed since publication.