You’d think drinks after work in the city would be a no-brainer for a date. You have worked hard all day and come 5pm you are super keen to hit a bar and forget all about work. Often though it is a sea of suits in every bar in Melbourne and you can overhear them talking about banking or recruitment or whatever it is that they do. Honestly, it usually has me on the first tram out of town in search of somewhere a little more relaxed. It shouldn’t be this way, so now I’ve found an après work date in town that with my choice of locations will almost transport you from Melbourne to Stockholm and from Stockholm to New York City.
First stop Stockholm. Thankfully neither situated in the banking or recruitment district, this little bar is smack bang in the middle of the Mountaineering District. Oddly surrounded by Kathmandu, Snowgum and Aussie Disposals is an unassuming little Scandinavian cocktail bar called duNORD. I’m not really sure what it is about this place that makes me love it so much, it could be the sexy fitout of light wood and exposed brick or the attractive and fun staff behind the bar, maybe it’s just that it’s unlike any other bar in Melbourne. Oh, they give you free chilli popcorn, it’s definitely the free popcorn.
DuNORD takes you somewhere else and if you’ve been anywhere in that part of the world it does evoke fond memories of bars abroad. I suggest meeting your date straight from work to beat the rush. Although it doesn’t normally get crazy busy it does build up to a little hum with an in-house DJ playing from the side of the bar. There are plenty of solid Scandinavian stools to perch at, so it’s perfect for relaxing with a drink while you try and discuss anything but work with your lovely date.
Next stop New York. Nieuw Amsterdam is a new (see what I did there) bar & eatery that has just opened up down the tamer end of Hardware street. They have transformed a dingy old Irish pub into a New York style two level bar and restaurant that will soon become a city favourite.
From duNORD I propose heading down the dimly lit Niagara Lane. The cobblestone lane with its very cool and vintage street lighting helps with the pretense that you’ve left Melbourne. A quick left and right and you’re almost there as you skip Hardware lane and its eager waiters trying ever so hard to get you through their doors. As soon as you enter Nieuw Amsterdam, again like duNORD, you are hit with something different. The building was built in the 1880’s so you can appreciate what they’ve been able to achieve with the sleek new design of the restaurant upstairs and the darker basement bar downstairs.
I suggest heading straight for the restaurant and ordering your way through the simple menu of American inspired food like grits or clam chowder or try something from the grill like jerk chicken or beef brisket. The great thing about Nieuw Amsterdam is that they are open late and serve late so it’s perfect for a bite after a few drinks.
No need to rush home as Nieuw Amsterdam has a licence until 5am. So to really seal the deal, head straight downstairs to the bar and grab an after dinner drink. By this stage I’m hoping you have shown your date a different part of town and proved that after work drinks don’t have to involve a rammed bar full of suits talking shop. Stockholm, New York, now the only place left to take your date is Funky Town.
- duNORD – 367 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
- Nieuw Amsterdam – 112 Hardware St, Melbourne