Jul 1, 2012
I was South of the Border in Mexico (ahem Melbourne) a couple of weeks ago for work, and decided to check out a few small bars with a good mate of mine (Reidy). One of the bars high on my to-do list was the Money Order Office (more affectionately known as MOO).
Tucked away down Driver Lane (off Little Bourke St) MOO, and its sister small bar Penny Blue, reside within the original Money Order Office building that was built in 1890 as a sister building to the GPO, to house the Money Order facilities. From 1933 to 1970 the building was the office of Federal Parliamentarians including Prime Ministers R. G. Menzies and J. B. Chifley. The basement where MOO is located, was actually the document storage room with large filing cabinets occupying the areas where the booths are today.
MOO opened in 2004 and rapidly rose to fame by winning Melbourne Wine Bar of the Year in 2005. In January this year, the bar had a major refit to open the venue up and make it less claustrophobic. Shrugging off its fine dining pedigree, for a less formal tapas affair, MOO removed 8 tables, increased the bar size, and added ruby leather chesterfield lounges in the centre of the room to create a more casual vibe, ideal for kicking back and relaxing with a tasty vino, cheeky cocktail, or local craft beer, whilst listening to the three-piece jazz trio Tin Men.
When you walk down the stairs to MOO you’re greeted by a door originally built in 1760 by Tijout (famed for building the gates of Buckingham Palace). The decor of MOO is Classic Melbourne – Argentinean and French parquetry, antiques and artifacts, leather chesterfields, mixed nouveau pieces of art, and the world’s largest collection of Pierre Paulin lamps (c 1950), all of which which sit perfectly within the confines of the grand historic building.
Reidy and I hadn’t gone to MOO with the intention of eating that night, but after perusing the menu the 8 x course degustation (for $75) looked like an offer too good to refuse (that’s less that $10 a course!) and we weren’t disappointed!! The menu has tasty entry level tapas/snacks such as Smoked Aubergine, Ground Lamb and San Simon Cheese Epinadas ($9), Jámon & Manchego Croquettes served with a green apple puree & crispy jámon ($12), or Tempura Monkfish wrapped in nori with green tea dipping salt ($14). If you’re after something more substantial you could go one of the 2 x degustation meals on offer, or try out a Char grilled Wagyu served wild mushroom pesto & roasted marrow ($26), or Pan Seared Prawns with pea puree, jerusalem artichokes & smoked bacon ($26).
One of the things MOO prides itself on is its wine list. Within its 21 pages, you’ll find anything from a cheap and cheerful glass of Kiwi 2011 Mt Vernon Sauvignon Blanc ($8.50), all the way up to an $1800 bottle 1983 Salon Blanc de Blancs – and everything in-between. They have a nice selection of craft beers on tap, and bottled, including the local Brunswick brewery’s Thunder Road Full Steam Pale or Brunswick Bitter ($7.50). If you’re partial to something more mixed and fruity – MOO have a range of tasty cocktails including the “318 Little Bourke St” – Rosemary infused WA Westwinds ‘Cutlass’ gin, Balsamic reduction, fresh Basil, Citrus & muddled Strawberries ($22).
Despite his Cane Toad (Brisbane) heritage MOO Manager Wayne looked after us very well on the night. A chef by trade, Wayne’s pedigree shone through in his knowledge of wine, beer and food, and ensured our evening was one of the best hospitality experiences i’ve had in long time. At the end of the evening, we had the opportunity to share a single malt with head chef Wayne (yes another Wayne) who was in the process of finalising his winter menu. Being an Irish native, I dare say if anyone knows how to piece a winter menu together it would be him!
Speaking of single malts, our last stop of the evening (a recommendation of Wayne’s) was Melbourne’s premier Whisky Lounge - Chez Regime…but that’s another story!
Money Order Office (MOO) – Melbourne
Driver Lane, Melbourne,
Off Little Bourke Street
Ph:(03) 9639 3020
Tapas/finger-food from $9, Mains from $18