Saturday, July 02, 2011
Lui Bar (Melbourne) 06/2011
Step out of the lift at the 55th floor of the Rialto building and you find yourself facing an impressive rectangular bar lit by powerful overhead lights shining through odd shaped plastic sacs perhaps symbolizing clouds.
This is The Lui Bar, Shannon Bennetts latest endeavour to woo, and wow the public.
Friday was a preview night so it's hard to draw conclusions but it does make an impression. Firstly there is the room, dimly lit, filled with a variety of chaise lounges, small arm chairs, covered chairs and stools with small round tables on tripod legs. It's comfortable, crowded, and yet intimate, it reminds me of a prohibition era speakeasy. Then there's the view. It is truly breathtaking. Melbourne looks wonderful at night. It's cliched to say it but there is an unobstructed sea of lights over the suburbs stretching for miles, showing us what a fabulous city this is.
There is a somewhat contrived theme for the night. From about 1860 with the gold rushes Melbourne was an exceptionally wealthy town and there was an attempt to capture some elements of tha with the cocktailst.
Seated at the bar there was a pre drink offering of a bag of tapioca chips, salty, feather light and crisp they are a perfect bar snack.
The first cocktail was a macadamia liqueur with vodka.
Sweet and light it's one good way of eating a macadamia nut! This was served with 'chicken soup', a small block of gelatinized chicken soup sat on some chopped carrot and grains of pasta a small pot with a gold lining.
Pouring hot water dissolved the gelatin and produced the soup. Very cute and it would have been nice if it had some seasoning. Adding some tapioca chips fixed it.
This was followed by a Sherry cobbler, a common drink at that time, with green apple liqueur and vodka in a glass filled with ice chips.
The lavish use of ice was a sign of affluence in 1860's Melbourne where ice was brought from America. This was served with a couple of oysters with a brown butter emulsion and a sardine on a strip of bread.
The next cocktail called a Lola Montez spider fizz was a variation on a Bellini using a quince nectar base.
Lola Montez performed here about that time and had an act where she lifted her skirts and shocked the audience both by sowing more of Lola than they expected at the same time as dropping spiders from under her skirts. The accompanying bacon and egg donuts would have matched any cocktail.
A single Ethiopian coffee bean coktail with a duck foie fras under a pastry cover followed
before a chocolate mousse topped with berries and wood sorrel.