Enter through Saint Crispin (being sure to admire Scott Pickett and Joe Grbac’s dishes as you pass), head out through the back door, in through another door, up a winding staircase (that’s slightly more challenging on the way down), then walk a long corridor to Thomas Olive, to the welcoming strains of jazz.
Derived from a personal passion of bar manager James Tait, who saw it as the perfect accompaniment for the classic fare that was being created by Pickett and Grbac, Thomas Olive is inspired by an old-school cafe style bar from 1920s France, and boasts a short but snappy classic wine and drinks list complemented by charcuterie, oysters and other snacks from the restaurant below.
“Everyone is so focused on America and American bars which is great, but this is more a focus on French, the likes of which you don’t really see around anymore, especially not in Australia,” Tait says.
The French theme continues through to the relaxed yet moody decor with a handful of Parisian style tables, four bar stools and two Chesterfields to accommodate up to 30 patrons in the chic, table service only, venue. “We want people to lose themselves for a little bit and just relax,” Tait says, adding, “You don’t have to have a beer or a wine; there’s so much other cool stuff we can do for you.”
Pre-dinner, pop in for an aperitif on the rocks such as the Lilet Rose, a drink certain to cleanse your palate, or nightcap on a Calvados digestif cocktail. For the bits in between or as a stand-alone, you can’t go past the Suissesse, a traditional boisson melange (mixed drink) combining herbsaint (an anise-flavoured liquor originating in New Orleans when absinthe was banned), French Vermouth, fresh mint and peach bitters (the latter to give it extra lift).
Upstairs, 300 Smith Street, Collingwood
(03) 9419 2202
Wed to Thurs 5pm-midnight
Fri to Sat 5pm-1am