As many Melbournians, yearn to hear those words, “can I take your order?” As we long for stage 4 COVID lock-downs to lift. There’s a delicious new bar and bistro, that is set to be a major new player in town and I was fortunate enough to explore and dine prior to lock-down. Nestled in a row of Victorian terraces is Bergman & Co’s latest project Poodle Bar. The client envisioned this Gertrude street, South Fitzroy bar and bistro as a place to be frequented regularly, a space to feel a sense of belonging anchored in the essence of old and new. The design brief informed an interior that is a modern interpretation of chiaroscuro; light and shade, placing the patron at the centre of their experience. With the aim of providing spaces to hideout or hangout, depending on one’s mood.
This was achieved within a series of spaces, each with its own character, inviting a moment of silence or sensation. The ground floor dining
room and bar a large area that has an intimate feeling.
Design concepts have been realised with the considered treatment of floors and walls, the use of dark wood panelling, and alternate ground surfaces giving ambience to a space that houses a walk-up bar reminiscent of the 1930s; invoking a sense of nostalgia. The velvet and leather layers in soft furnishings signalling a relaxed luxurious vibe. The modelling of chiaroscuro achieved in the dining booths with the use of patterned parallel lined glass.
The ground floor is embedded in a romantic textural representation of the past whilst situating us delightfully in the present through the careful placement of contemporary art, wild flowers and greenery. The archways acting as a conduit to a different scene, likened to the experience of being in a gallery, eyes adjusting to the varying levels of light and shade as the rooms are traversed.
The opening for the stairs acting as a lightwell signalling that one is about to enter a new zone. This space includes a private dining room with seating for twelve.
Small wall spaces with pull out drink trays shrouded by dimly lit wall sconces add to the moodiness of this habitat. Then there’s the outdoor terrace that establishes Poodle Bar as a venue which will excel in all seasons. The tone here is cool and kitsch with tables tightly packed and plenty of standing space.
Wendy Bergman and her studio’s focus on the continual reckoning of relationships between light and shade, past and present, old and new has resulted Poodle Bar and Bistro being a place of impenetrable synergy that leaves one with the sense of wanting more.
Photography by Derek Swalwell