Restaurateur Con Christopoulos says he’s dreamed for years of one day having his own Hollywood Western-style saloon. You know, swinging doors, chandeliers, tinkling pianos, waistcoated barmen. When he first saw the rundown old space above his Kirk’s Wine Bar site late last year, he says he was instantly transported to the bar in one of his favourite films, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
Christopoulos is teaming up on the project with his Kirk’s business partner and executive chef Ian Curley, as well as long-time business partner, Josh Brisbane – with whom he co-owns an ever-growing stable of venues including The European, Siglo, Spring Street Grocer and Neapoli.
The Saloon’s elegant, light-filled interior was designed by Christopoulos himself, and features vintage timbers, ornate detailing and an impressive zinc-topped bar.
“My inspiration comes from Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy, and also Hollywood Westerns. This, complemented by the romance of the Belle Époque era in Paris – think can-can dancers and hard liquor,” he says.
Heading up the kitchen will be chef Todd Moses (ex-Supernormal, Golden Fields, Circa) with a French-accented menu that will elaborate on the wine-friendly offering at Kirk’s, with some “modern touches”.
“We’ll be doing good steaks – all aged in-house and plenty of our own charcuterie,” says Curley, who oversees menus for the entire European group. “Plus we’ll have a raw bar, which is something that I love, but you don’t really see here in Melbourne. I like the show of it,” he says. Think oysters shucked and seafood and salmon cut to order.
Featuring a 60-seat dining room, bar seating, a leafy rooftop terrace, plus a 28-seat private dining room, the site will be followed in 2016 with the team’s next venture, a multi-level wine bar, cellar and their take on the classic Aussie pub, Kirk’s Public Bar, in the adjoining building next door.
The French Saloon opens at midday on January 19, 2016 – the kitchen stays open until 11pm, Monday–Friday. Kirk’s Public Bar is slated for mid-2016.
This article was updated on January 18, 2016.