Less is more. That's the outlook at Sun Moth Canteen and Bar, the new all-day eatery from Luke Mutton and Kylie Mackinlay – the founders and former owners of South Melbourne’s Dead Man Espresso and Seddon’s Common Galaxia – plus friends Jackson Duxbury and Tod La Mar.
“Things are limited for a reason,” Mutton says. “It's because there's no space.” Maybe so, but the diminutive 56-seat venue just off Lonsdale Street feels like it has everything it needs, and nothing more. It's a place where you can just as easily drop in for breakfast as for a decent cocktail.
Each owner has informally taken the lead on some aspect of the venue, according to their interests. They know what they like, and consequently, there's no fluff to speak of.
This ethos starts in the kitchen, which is basically just an extension of the big central bar. Chef Sebastien Nicholas (Common Galaxia, Cobb Lane Bakery) makes just seven breakfasts, eight lunches and a handful of sweet pastries, all reasonably priced. Later in the day there's cheese and charcuterie, a good fall back after hot food service stops around 9.30pm.
Hearty grains play a big role. This comes in the form of porridge, granola, risotto, quinoa salad and more. Outside of that, there's eggs done however you like, brothy soups, eggplant parmagiana and other quick-to-make wonders. For a pre-work brekkie or a quick lunch break, it's hard to go past what's on offer here.
In the bar, La Mar has forgone the giant wall of spirits in favour of two concisely stocked speedrails with which to dispatch the half-dozen cocktails on the menu. Apart from the tequilas (Tromba), it's all good, locally distilled stuff. Even if there were room for Glenfidditch alongside the Hellyer's Road whiskey, or Hendrick's alongside the West Winds gin, they'd feel a bit superfluous.
Mutton's six beer taps tell a similar story, pouring craft brews from here and across the Tasman with a focus on his preferred fuller-bodied styles, plus a couple of lighter drops. He also designed the space with help from Life Space Journey, Illogical Study, and builder Fido Projects – the same team behind the gorgeous Common Galaxia.
Duxbury is the biggest enthusiast of natural wines and oversees a short list of light and savoury locals. He also handles the coffee, a fruity, easy-drinking batch brew from Small Batch. Espresso might appear down the track.
Through all this there's a sense that Sun Moth exists more to indulge the owners' individual passions than those of their customers. But paradoxically, that's what makes it so great. Everyone seems thrilled to be there, regardless of which side of the counter they're on.
Sun Moth Canteen & Bar
Shop 3, 377 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
(03) 9602 4554
Mon 8am–4pm (11pm over summer)
Tue to Sat 8am–11pm