POW Kitchen, by the Melbourne Pub Group, is a 100-seat pan-Asian eatery. It occupies the balcony and about a third of the bandroom; the two spaces are connected by sliding doors that can be opened to create one space.
“We can trade as two separate entities,” says venue manager Lana Sissing. “So if we have a half-room show, we can keep the restaurant trading while the show goes on beyond the wall. If it’s a sold-out show, or a club night, we’ll trade up until the room is full, then lift the doors and open the venue up into the bandroom as people know it.
“It’s basically finish eating, clear your table, let’s party,” she says.
The menu is by executive chef Daniel Hawkins (ex-Longrain, Newmarket, Acland St Cantina) and head chef Woosun Choi (ex-Cumulus, Acland St Cantina, Circa). It ranges from snacks, such as prawn crackers with smoked chilli relish, to larger plates, such as crispy pork hock with charred pineapple, and a yellow chicken curry.
There’s beer on tap or in a tin; wine by the bottle or from the barrel; and cocktails, single-serve or by the pitcher. This new drink offering extends across the bandroom: good news if you’re there for a gig, or the recently returned regular Saturday club nights.
The bandroom has undergone other changes, too. The main bar is gone (replaced by the restaurant), and the side bar is sleeker and better stocked. The bleachers have moved, and the back room (now called the green room) has carpet and its very own bar. Sissing says the plan is to run smaller, exclusive parties in there.
The bathrooms are – thankfully – cleaner, but otherwise untouched.
Installing a restaurant inside a nightclub might seem strange, especially if you’re an old Prince regular. But Sissing says it means they can trade seven days a week now.
“We’ve brought the venue back to life, and the restaurant adds to that whole entertainment offer. It’s all part of it.”
29 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda
(03) 9536 1168
Mon to Fri 4pm–late
Sat & Sun 12pm–late