Speakeasy Kitchen Bar, South Yarra


Last week Mum and Dad came over our way for lunch. We had a few places in mind but settled on Speakeasy: I'd walked past it a few times and had been wanting to give it a crack. Plus the menu was varied enough to please everyone, and we could choose from the breakfast and lunch menus. I love that!

On entry, we were over-mooned to be told that they had a sunny courtyard out the back. The courtyard is surprisingly large, considering the size of the front and the inside: some tables are under cover, some in the open, and there's a bunch of higher tables with stools that definitely support the whole 'kitchen bar' theme. 

This is a hybrid kind of place - and from what I can tell, it treads the line nicely. If you feel like a relaxed drink, this joint will do just as well when it comes to atmos as it will when it comes to a sit-down meal.

The menu is decent and varied: see here for the breakfast and lunch list. The dinner menu offers a good bunch of treats, including shared plates, mains and sides.

Mex ordered the Speakeasy Burger ($18): Aussie Wagyu beef with tomato, aioli, cos lettuce, bacon, tomato sauce and fries. He said it was 'ok' but I knew what that really meant: when pressed, he said the burger was pretty good - it just wasn't big enough. 

This is often a comment of his when he receives a smaller-sized burger. Having said this, the burger meat itself was pretty thick and filling enough; he just didn't like the small circumference (what a weird word to use in this context! Anyhoo...).

I'd wanted to order the calamari salad but they said they couldn't do that grilled (I hate fried seafood: I want to taste seafood, not batter), so I went for some gluten free toast with a bunch of sides. It was a reasonable meal (served with a good dose of avocado; I hate it when they get stingey with that) - my issue was that, when it arrived, it came with eggs and I hadn't asked for those, plus the bill came with eggs listed and we had to ask to have them removed from the total.

I don't know what it is about ordering breakfast, but so many times I've made an order like this one and it has come with eggs, even though I haven't asked for them or have specifically said that I don't want them (bloody hate eggs, always have). 

It's almost like people have a mental block when it comes to ordering breakfast: breakfast isn't breakfast without eggs. But I know plenty of weirdos like me who don't like/want eggs and always have to remove them from their breakfast orders (and/or ask for something else to replace them), since most breakfast orders uniformly include eggs.

Dad ordered the Vegetarian Sandwich ($12), with grilled eggplant, lemon zest, spinach and fontina cheese, capsicum and pesto, served with fries. His comment was that the sanga was fine - it just shouldn't have come with fries but with eg a side salad instead. He thought fries was a weird accompaniment for an otherwise healthy-ish sandwich. 

I do agree, but I didn't remind him that he could have asked for something else instead. Unlike Mex and me, Mum and Dad would never alter what's listed on a dish - I think they're hardwired to think that means they're creating hassle or breaking some unwritten rule. What's written on the menu is gospel, set in stone.

This was Mum's order and without question the most interesting dish of the lot. It's the Rose Water Poached Rhubarb and Quince with organic yoghurt, toasted coconut and almonds, pistachio and mint ($13). Note that, like many of Speakeasy's dishes, they offer a gluten free option (in this case the muesli). Good on them I say. Many of us these days avoid gluten for medical reasons or health ones. I often avoid gluten myself, for no other reason than that I feel better for it (gluten seems to bloat me and make me feel 'heavy' after eating).

Mum said her dish was a great mix of flavours - interesting but not too much (she tends to prefer plain food) - and she would definitely order it again. Don't blame her; I might even order this myself if we go back.

In sum

Our favourite thing about this place was the feel of it. We all really liked the atmosphere in the courtyard. There's an inside section that didn't look as appealing, but the street tables and the long table at the front of the joint (by an open window) also look like good options. I reckon everyone could find somewhere to sit here, depending on mood and weather.

The service was attentive and decent, although our waitress didn't crack a smile once (maybe she was just having a bad day - she wasn't rude or anything, just looked a bit over it). There were also plenty of staff on, so we felt in good hands and it was easy enough to catch someone's eye if we wanted to order a coffee etc during the meal.

The food was good but not amazing. This might have something to do with what we ordered: it's hard to stuff up an order like mine (and harder still to define it/make it stand out); Dad's order was simple and also hard to stuff up/define; Mex was sidetracked by the size of his burger and therefore less inclined to praise its quality; and Mum's was absolutely the best of the lot.

Would we go back? Yes, but not for the food in particular - more for the feel of the place. I'd like to return in the evening for some drinks and plates to share from the dinner menu. I reckon this'd be a great place to settle in on a nice summer evening. Definitely worth a crack.


359 Chapel Street, South Yarra VIC 3141
+ 61 3 9824 0770
Monday to Sunday (Breakfast-Lunch); Friday & Saturday (Dinner); open Public Holidays

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