Winston Churchill loved champagne. The former British prime minister also loved fine food, five-star hotels and his poodle, Rufus. Greville Street’s newest bar, Rufus, is an ode to this larger-than-life man.
“I’ve always loved Churchill’s love of good food and booze,” says owner Daniel Verheyen. “It’s something that I share. So, I thought, why not put a five-star-hotel-style bar, something that Churchill would have loved, right in the middle of suburbia?”
Rufus is an intimate and very grand place. Waiters dressed as butlers take your order, and your drinks and food appear from behind closed doors. Rooms are decked out in plush blue and gold chairs. Chandeliers hang from the ceiling. Push aside the velvet, moss-green curtains to expose sweeping views of neighbouring Grattan Park.
The menu is designed around Churchill’s favourite things. For drinks, that means a champagne, whisky and Martini-centric list; although there is plenty of wine, beer and other cocktails, too. There are also pots of English tea and coffee.
Food is prawn cocktails; caviar; oysters; strawberries and cream; and chocolate truffles. Verheyen also owns Milk the Cow, so there’s cheese, too. But the standout is Rufus’s signature dish, a Yorkshire pudding roll, stuffed with lamb slow-roasted by Chris Watson from Luxembourg Bar & Bistro. A meat-stuffed Yorkie was Churchill’s go-to when he was reading, at war, or otherwise not-at-table.
There’s a cigar menu – “You can’t not have cigars when talking about Winston Churchill,” says Verheyen – although at the moment access to the outdoor terrace is weather-dependent. Verheyen is waiting on council approval to cover it, so it can be used year-round.