After Stokehouse St Kilda was destroyed by fire last January, the restaurant re-established itself among the high-rises of the city. But just one year on, the restaurant has already undergone a rebrand, transforming its downstairs dining area into [Stoke] Bar + Kitchen.

Opened three weeks ago, [Stoke] Bar has moved away from formal service to accommodate those who want a more laid-back dining experience.

“After being in the city for a year, we felt there was space to offer something a bit more casual for customers, even more so than what we were offering before,” says manager Bryce Hughes.

“I think you’ll always find people who are after that fine-dining experience, that’s always going to be there, but a lot of people want to go somewhere that’s more relaxed.”

Designer Rabindra Naidoo, who has worked on venues such as Journal, Self Preservation and Pidapipo, has transformed the venue’s light, beachy atmosphere into a more intimate, dimly lit space. Parquet floors have been stripped back to reveal dark natural timber beneath, and the once sand-coloured walls have been covered with black gloss, cut through with an acid yellow dado line.

The new menu, created by head chef Sam Webb, is made up of share plates all, under $30, which is significantly cheaper than Stokehouse’s offering upstairs. Ranging from burgers and pizzas at lunch time, to salami boards and beef tartare at dinner, the focus is on Australian produce and ingredients.

“He’s made a real push against normal bar food and has tried to make it a bit more interesting with a specific Australian feel to it,” says Hughes.

“We wanted to make a menu that people could make their own: they can either come in a for a drink and nibbles or have a more substantial meal.”

[Stoke] Bar + Kitchen is open from Monday to Saturday from 11am until close. Last seating is 9.30pm.