We’ve all got that one friend – the one that initiates the lounge room mosh pit or the one whose parents were super lax about bringing home friends. Well, that guy is Leonard and he’s throwing constant house parties from now on.

“We thought we’d pick a guy, create his character and then design the house to what we thought his would look like,” says co-owner Mark Catsburg (also a co-owner at The Sweetwater Inn).

And they’ve done it. It’s taken the guys (that includes Guy Bentley, Jonathan Harper and chef Nick Stanton) just three months to completely transform Leonard’s in South Yarra into a ’70s-inspired log cabin and bar, complete with lounge room and pool table. They’ve kitted the place out themselves; from the log stools and the double-sided stone fireplace, to the timber-panelled walls and picket fence outside. There’s a license and DJs until 3am on the weekends.

“All we ever wanted to create was a place where people could feel at home,” says Catsburg.

“There are people dancing in the lounge room, people playing pool,” he says. All the while, Stanton (most recently heading the kitchen at Longhorn Saloon in Carlton), is getting dinner ready in the kitchen.

There’s no formal dining area, no bookings, no expensive chinaware. Instead it’s straight-up burger boxes, plastic baskets, bulk serviettes and the occasional fork.

“It’s food the way we like to eat,” says Stanton who describes the menu as suburban Aussie charcoal-chicken shop meets Americana.

It’s a relatively small menu, but savvy. The brisket-patty cheeseburger not only deserves a medal, but it doubles as the chicken stuffing.

“Everything that’s in a cheeseburger is stuffed into the chicken; beef, cheese, pickles, onion, ketchup, mustard and bread,” says Stanton. The chicken is then slow-cooked over hot coals on a rotisserie and finished with a splash of Coca-Cola to get that sweet glaze. “It actually tastes like a cheeseburger… in a chicken,” says Stanton.

With sides including jacket potatoes with mash and gravy, Greek salad and dinner rolls, the menu is big on “absolute Aussie classics” says Stanton. For those not sold on a beef-stuffed chicken, the guys have also created a couple of vegan adaptations (similar to Sweetwater Inn, but not as many) which include sticky, fried eggplant and a barbeque tofu dish that resembles a short rib

The beer list is varied, ranging from a Bathtub Brew on tap to a bottled IPA or Pilsner. The cocktails throw back to the ’70s – heavy on the rum – although there are some classic Campari and gin concoctions.

Leonard’s House of Love
3 Wilson Street, South Yarra

Hours
Tue to Thu 4pm–3am
Fri to Sun 12pm–3am

facebook.com/leonardshouseoflove