Spontaneous drinks and dining is back. Dropping into a much-loved local or crossing town to explore a new bar has never felt so good. Poodle Upstairs is one to put on the list of Melbourne’s newest places to feel the thrill of being out again.
Zoë Rubino and Emilio Scalzo’s Poodle Bar & Bistro is located in the heart of Fitzroy on Gertrude Street. The new Poodle Upstairs is open Friday and Saturday nights for walk-in drinks with a snacking menu different to the downstairs offering. Poodle Upstairs continues the venue’s distinctive luxe design aesthetic by Wendy Bergman (Bergman & Co) with the additional comfort of an open fire (bring on winter!) and a private dining room for events.
The drinks menu features sixteen classic and signature cocktails, an extensive range of Victorian and European wines, and spirits. Expect classics like the Sidecar, Manhattan and the Wet Poodle (wet martini). Other signature cocktails include the Rosy Cheeks (Vida, Aperol, lime, rosemary syrup), Mosse Martini (Mosse vermouth, Tanqueray, Dolin Dry), Basil Club (basil-infused Tanqueray, raspberries, pepper), and The Masterpiece (Cocchi vermouth Di Torino, Bulleit Rye, Angostura bitters).
Designed by Head Chef Josh Fry (ex-Marion/Cumulus Inc), the food menu shines a light on house-made charcuterie made with Bundarra Berkshire Pigs from Barham (NSW), sustainably raised by free-range farmers Lachlan and Lauren Mathers, then cured in the Poodle wine cellar. Other premium charcuterie from around the world has also been sourced featuring free-range pork, confit garlic and pistachio terrine, Juan Pedro Domecq Ibérico Jamón, hot soppressa, and more.
Keeping with the Poodle theme of nostalgic classics curated with quality ingredients in mind, guests can also expect a light and bright selection of raw seafood dishes designed to share with a cocktail in tow. These include Yarra Valley caviar, Brook trout, Atlantic salmon, paired perfectly with classic tinned or jarred sides for a Eurocentric touch. Tinned and jarred snacks include Cuca anchovies in oil; baby sardines in tomato sauce; mussels in pickle sauce, octopus in oil, Conservas Emilia Garfish, chicken liver parfait with mulled wine jelly, and spiced calamari in ragout.
For a wine and cheese affair, Poodle Upstairs also offers a selection of Australian and French varieties such as Marcel Petite Comté, Vannella Burrata, Crottin Chevrefeuille white mould, Colston Bassett Stilton, and Pont l’Evêque washed rind.
Next to the main space upstairs is an adjoining private dining room hidden away from the hum of the main bar and perfect for smaller events seating up to 20 people. Multi-functional and versatile, the dining room will also open up the wine cellar to private tastings in the future with plans to hold public events in the newly opened upstairs area. The entire upstairs space, including the dining room, is also available for bookings accommodating groups of up to 70 guests.
Whether it’s a tipple next to the fire with a cocktail in hand, or a spontaneous night out at the bar, Poodle Upstairs delivers an intimate departure from the hustle and bustle of the downstairs bistro.
81–83 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy VIC 3065
Open Fridays and Saturdays, 6pm until 1am
Images: Jake Roden