Since the European Group insists on bringing us places like Barbarella Gelato and Wine, we have no objection to its proliferation in the city. The new spot in the Block Arcade on Collins Street is named for the ’60s sci-fi flick starring Jane Fonda – not for its storyline, but for its loose European ties; it was shot in Italy by a French director.
It wouldn’t be out of place in a Parisian or Roman train station – it is long and slender, with lots of dark timber, marble, glass, and brass polished so bright it looks gold. Black wrought-iron arches, by Paul Dodd from Shush Metal, curve overhead. Dodd also made the shop’s stools. Then there’s the arcade’s existing mosaic tiled floor.
“It’s a beautiful space, there’s something really romantic and nostalgic about it,” says Bengt Baumgartner, European Group’s general manager. “It’s the kind of space you can nick into and sit down at the bar on your own for your morning coffee, or meet a couple of people at for a drink in the afternoon.
“It’s a comfortable place, and a refueling place for people on their way to other things in the city.”
Eight flavours of gelati and sorbetti are available daily in flavours such as white chocolate and elderberry, and pistachio. There are six wines by the glass and a mix of European and local beers, including the McKay Lager the European Group brewed in collaboration with Cavalier Brewery in Brunswick – on offer too.
The rest of the food menu is limited to what can be prepared in the small kitchen; it’s a “wine and baguette sort of offering” says Baumgartner. Toasted sandwiches and bagels; mueslis; egg dishes; a few salads; and pastries from the bakery at Trattoria Emilia. Cold-pressed juices come from Spring Street Grocer, and there’s coffee, shakes and sodas.
It’s worth noting this is not the European Group’s only scheduled opening for 2017: The Butcher’s Diner, also in the CBD, is slated to open in April.
Barbarella Gelato and Wine
Block Arcade, 282 Collins Street, Melbourne
Mon to Fri 7am–8pm